March 2020 in Experimental Music

How do I begin to reflect on March 2020? At the end of the month, I started a quest to revisit every Studio Ghibli film, which led me to watching the epic masterpiece, Spirited Away. It’s a film I’m coming back to after some time, and one that really captured my imagination when I was about 14. Spirited Away tells the story of a young … Continue reading March 2020 in Experimental Music

Album Review: Wombat, The order in which they exist

A wombat is a medium-sized Australian marsupial that has the brawniness of a bear, the face of a weasel, and the temper of an angry toddler. In other words, it’s a rarity that comes with a side of volatility. Not unlike its namesake, Wombat, an Iowa City-based free jazz trio, leans into unpredictability on their newest record, The order in which they exist. Visceral sound … Continue reading Album Review: Wombat, The order in which they exist

February 2020 in Experimental Music

Usually, February is quite the dismal affair: no one goes outside and everyone posts too many things about love or a lack thereof on social media. February gloominess certainly stayed true for the state of American politics, but I’ve been quite lucky to find some solace and, believe it or not, positivity, this past month. As for music, a wide swath of new releases for … Continue reading February 2020 in Experimental Music

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