Album Review: Ryuichi Sakamoto, The Staggering Girl OST

A steady pulse of swishing static provides an immersive backdrop for Ryuichi Sakamoto’s recent score for Luca Guadadgnino’s short drama, The Staggering Girl. The film, produced in partnership with Valentino’s creative director, tells a story of a woman haunted by her past. It mostly falls flat, save for a few moments of the type of enveloping dreamworlds Guadagnino is known for. Sakamoto’s score turns the … Continue reading Album Review: Ryuichi Sakamoto, The Staggering Girl OST

Album Review: Dan Trueman, Sō Percussion, and JACK Quartet, Songs That Are Hard To Sing

For composer, fiddler, and instrument builder Dan Trueman, tradition and innovation in music-making often coexist. He’s recently worked on projects that explore their meeting place, like bitKlavier, a digital prepared piano, and Olagón – A Cantata In Doublespeak, which amalgamates Irish folk tales, pop, contemporary classical, and fiddling. With his 2019 album, Songs That Are Hard to Sing, he continues in this vein, mixing inspiration … Continue reading Album Review: Dan Trueman, Sō Percussion, and JACK Quartet, Songs That Are Hard To Sing

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

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