Comix Trips (Lansky, Scott, Woolf, Brown)
Relâche released this new CD on Sunday, February 9th at the Penn Museum, as part of their residency series of concerts. Online purchase in both physical and digital formats is available via this link:
Comix Trips by Paul Lansky, http://www.paullansky.com/ which comprises the new CD’s first four tracks, was commissioned by Relâche and can best be described as a kind of divertimento. The title of each movement is derived from famous comics’ expressions over the past 85 years and the character of each movement roughly reflects the sense of the utterance: Leaping Lizards, Holy Moly, Good Grief, and What, Me Worry?
Darin Kelly arranged tracks 5,7, and 9, from the output of Raymond Scott (1908-1994.) Twilight in Turkey, The Penguin, and Powerhouse may remind you of cartoons because in 1943 Scott sold his catalog to Warner Brothers, whose arranger Carl Stalling made good use of Scott’s music. While essentially a jazz musician, Scott was Juilliard trained and retained a classical sensibility. However, he did not believe in composing on paper- he dictated his compositions to his exasperated band, who were expected to pick up his eccentricities by ear, a process he called head arranging.
Track 6 is another Relâche commission, Brooklynite Randy Woolf’s Canine State of Mind. Woolf, http://www.randallwoolf.com/ admires a dog’s ability to focus intently on whatever is at hand, even as this focus may change abruptly. Woolf’s composition includes pre-recorded synthesized material, primarily percussive, which adds much to his ingenious mixture of Relâche timbres and riffs.
Track 7 is Galen Brown’s Waiting in the Tall Grass, also commissioned by Relâche. While not programmatic, the work is somewhat informed by the image of predator awaiting prey. The composition is dedicated to Relâche and to Alex Reed. http://www.galenbrown.com/
THE PLANETS by Kyle Gann. This third release by Relâche with Meyer Media is sure to have you blasting off into the solar system with amazement! This magnum Opus of Kyle’s finally comes to realization for the first time in the complete full CD recording. Explore the warmth of the Sun, the violence of Mars, the beauty of Venus, and then meditate on Neptune. Picking up where Holst left off, we go deeper into space, and the human psyche. Our solar system is a delicate balance of light and dark, gravitational pulls and energies, the feminine and masculine. All that life has to offer from birth to death and beyond, THE PLANETS will enlighten your soul with perspective and depth rarely experienced. Brilliantly performed and beautifully recorded, come explore your world today.
RELÂCHE, for a quarter century, has maintained an international reputation as a leader in commissioning, presenting and performing the innovative and exciting music of our time. Relâche is among the oldest continuously operating, non-profit organizations and chamber ensembles dedicated to contemporary music in the United States. It has consistently offered world-class performances and presentations of music by leading American and international composers and artists. In addition, Relâche has always invested heavily in the future of new music through its commitment to the work of young and emerging composers. The internationally renowned octet Relâche Ensemble fuses the familiar sounds of our popular world with the freshness and edge of the experimental avant garde.
Here is Relâche’s second release on Meyer Media, boldly going beyond convention, bringing you new and hot off the shelf music from composers Eric Moe, Joseph Koykkar, Gavin Bryars, Leslie Savoy Burrs, and Sophia Serghi. In this CD you will experience the most sublime melodies to combative harmony. Without question, this release has set the bar for what new music is about.
“Relâche” is taken from Erik Satie’s 1924 collaborative ballet whose absurdist title on the theatre marquis translated to “no performance today.” Since 1977, the band’s work with composers such as John Cage and James Tenney, and with the most thoughtful (and fun!) organized sound of today has tested music’s limits – if not its strict definitions then certainly the cultural boundaries negotiated by so called “art music. Relâche’s aim has never been to play “safe” music. In music, when composers and performers relinquish their assumptions of structural and social parameters, the audience’s thrill – our thrill – of the unexpected catches us vulnerable, and the results can be frightfully sublime, innocent, or hilarious. As one of Relâche’s founding members, Guy Klucevsek knows this as well as anyone. Revisiting his compatriots with a set of works whose explorations of modality are deceptively simple on first hearing, Klucevsek’s echoes of Eastern Europe reflect both the dance repertoire of his accordionist training in the outright catchy Wing/Prayer, and the sobriety of (dare we say) Górecki in Still Life With Canon. Placed in contrast to the epic introspection of Cynthia Folio’s work and Mark Hagerty’s gear shifting, Klucevsek’s punctuations – particularly his dances – subversively offer a more wry notion of the “play” in this recording’s title.
Relâche’s pianist Andrea Clearfield recalls, “The first time I heard the ensemble, they were walking around this performance space with their instruments, playing long tones. I had never seen or heard anything like this, and I knew right then I had to be a part of it.” Relâche’s involvement with audiences is one of invitation, wherein listening is part of the performance: even as sound finds your ears and resonates in your body, it reverberates back to its source. In light of this, perhaps a recording seems a one-sided gesture for a group so invested in dialogue. On the contrary, however, with Relâche’s end of the exchange already composed, performed, mixed, mastered, and printed, the real surprise will be what you bring to the conversation: react, question, smile, remember, forget, and immerse yourself, but whatever you do, Press Play.
Relâche’s older CD release “On Edge” is available online from Mode Records
“On Edge” features James Tenney’s Critical Band, a work which exploits minute micro-tonal tunings on a single note, gradually expanded to an overtone rich dominant 7th chord. John Cage after hearing a performance: “If this is harmony, I’m all for it!” Also Paul Epstein’s Chamber Music: three songs from “Home,” comprises gorgeous settings of three poems by Toby Olson. Two works with non-traditional scores by Thomas Albert are interpreted by Relâche, which brings high energy to Devil’s Rain, and sublime beauty to the enduring Relâche classic, A Maze with Grace.
This CD includes Relache’s recording of Persephone, composed for Relache by Philip Glass, one of America’s most popular and influential composers. The work has an alternate title, TSE. The CD is available on Amazon and here is the iTunes link from which you can sample the sounds.