Album Review: PRISM Quartet, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Bold chords blare underneath agitated glissandos that jump and fall in organized chaos. “Jackass,” the first movement of Steven Mackey’s “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral,” erupts from PRISM Quartet — a saxophone chamber ensemble — with fervor. Mackey, a Grammy award-winning composer and electric guitarist, originally wrote the piece in 2004, but the Quartet’s recording here provides a crisp, fresh perspective with their brash performance.  “Animal, Vegetable, … Continue reading Album Review: PRISM Quartet, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Album Review: Fay Kueen, A Place Called Home Is Not A Place

“After Sandy” opens Fay Kueen’s debut album A Place Called Home Is Not A Place with whimsical nostalgia. A muted piano tingles like a distant memory as an electronic hiss swirls around it. Kueen’s voice is distant, enveloped in a quiet chaos. She croons, “To believe it never fade away/To pretend it never fall apart,” searching for tangibility and hunting for the truth within a … Continue reading Album Review: Fay Kueen, A Place Called Home Is Not A Place

Revisiting the Experimental Music of 2019

When I started writing this year-end list in the beginning of December, I felt a bit like I was straying from my moral compass. I’ve long argued against the year-end list, even though I found the magic of Big Thief on NPR Music’s 2016 list (and that’s just one example). I decided to begin the lengthy process of amalgamation by writing down big questions instead … Continue reading Revisiting the Experimental Music of 2019

Album Review: Ashley Bathgate & Sleeping Giant, ASH

Bach’s solo cello suites can be heard in places ranging from the concert hall to TV commercials; the satisfying sound of strumming rolled chords during the Prelude of the first suite is a familiar memory. On ASH, celebrated cellist Ashley Bathgate mines her personal connection to these famed suites by commissioning her friends, the six-member composer collective Sleeping Giant, to create a set of new works … Continue reading Album Review: Ashley Bathgate & Sleeping Giant, ASH

Album Review: Square Peg Round Hole, Branches

On Branches, Philadelphia-based ensemble Square Peg Round Hole creates genre-blending ambient music that melds outward expression with inner pensiveness. The third LP from the percussion-based trio — Evan Chapman, Sean M. Gill, and Carlos Pacheco-Perez — Branches continues in a similar vein to past releases like 2016’s Juniper, a deeply emotional collection of purely instrumental, ambient works. But this time around, they’ve incorporated occasional vocals … Continue reading Album Review: Square Peg Round Hole, Branches

Isabelle O’Connell’s Wide-Ranging Exploration of Contemporary Piano at the Irish Arts Center

Pianist Isabelle O’Connell performed 13 different pieces at the Irish Arts Center on November 7. Each encapsulated a vastly different soundscape, but stories of O’Connell’s life and travels between Dublin and New York City connected them. The first piece on the program was George Gershwin’s Prelude No. 1, chosen in honor of her last concert in Dublin before moving to New York for school, where … Continue reading Isabelle O’Connell’s Wide-Ranging Exploration of Contemporary Piano at the Irish Arts Center