Joyce, Director of Publicity & Promotion
Three Cuneiform Records artists will perform at
PRESS & RADIO
Janel & Anthony :: Where Is Home
LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: "Big Sur" (mp3)
"Janel and Anthony are an important step in the evolution of music. They both exist on so many levels, each piece is like a hundred doors opening up!"
“Janel & Anthony - guitars and 'cello respectively - play a haunting and humbly virtuosic form of music wherein the elements of electronics, looping, and lo-fi timbres live both in intimacy and in majesty in the same house as acoustic instruments and folk/blues-inspired melodies. As such, it is both timely and timeless, drenched as it is in intoxicating atmosphere; wan, quiet voices submitting to waves of sonic drama. Who could possibly resist it?”
TO DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE EXTENDED PRESS RELEASE/BIO, click HERE
WATCH: The Making of IF NOT INERTIA
“Ergo's music is also rooted in jazz...fused with electronica and a distinct avant-garde feel. ...quite beautiful and moving...a bit like Sigur Ros meeting Sun Ra uptown.” - Terrascope
“This is music that evolves slowly, almost imperceptibly; yet for all its freedom, there's no shortage of structure...Hints of Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley imbue Sroka's writing, but never come to the forefront…Sroka takes a different approach to composition, one where improvisation and structure work hand-in-hand, each feeding the other.” - All About Jazz
“Pointillist gurgles and clouds of computer haze are made beautiful by boss Brett Sroka's design sense...The subtleties of...Multitude, Solitude are a nifty confluence of George Lewis' dreamscapes and Miles's Lonely Fire...it's a record that invites you to watch the embers glow.” - The Village Voice
Whitney Balliet famously described jazz as the “sound of surprise.” For the experimental electro-acoustic trio Ergo, jazz is a forum for surprising sounds, startling textures, and gently enthralling improvisation. With the ensemble’s third release If Not Inertia, Ergo continues to astonish, delivering music that investigates strange and unexpected spaces while inviting listeners into the process.
The latest incarnation of Ergo features founder and guiding spirit Brett Sroka on trombone, computers and whistling, Sam Harris on piano, prepared piano and Fender Rhodes, Shawn Baltazor on drums. Mary Halvorson, the dauntingly prolific young guitar star, joins the band on three tracks and Sebastian Kruger contributes acoustic guitar on one. Equally inspired by Sun Ra and Sigur Ros, the trio is devoted to exploring the push and pull between structure and freedom, density and spaciousness, and electronic and acoustic timbres. Their music unfurls in uncharted territory, a vast sonic realm defined by loops, improvisation, brief composed motifs, and constantly shifting interplay.
In addition to the music, the CD includes a .mov file of an incisive five-minute film by Donya Ravasani, The Making of If Not Inertia, featuring interviews with the musicians about the process of creating the album in the studio.
If Not Inertia opens with the minimalist excursion “Sorrows of the Moon,” a quietly roiling piece that adds layer upon layer over a piano drone, accelerating gradually to an anxious epiphany. “Two For Joy” opens with an exquisite electric piano figure that evokes the opening of a music box filled with clanky toys, sepia-toned photos and brittle leaves.
The album’s centerpiece, the almost 12-minute “Little Shadow,” is a case study in Ergo’s methodology, from the hushed cymbal rainfall and the breaking-dawn trombone line that wends slowly hither and thither without building to a sizzling climax. Similarly, Sroka whistles a portentous, meandering melody on the title track that could serve as the ominous theme for a laconic spaghetti Western.
The energy shifts abruptly on the “The Widening Gyre,” as Sroka’s trombone blusters and roars and Halverson showers bent notes over the gathering storm. By the time the album closes with the sweetly guileless “Let’s” Ergo has completed a singular journey that fights stasis on every level. Without recourse to obvious grooves, this is music that compels movement, emotional, intellectual and even spiritual.
In many ways, Ergo is the sum of its manifestly creative parts. Raised in Lexington, Mass., Sroka studied with trombone greats Britt Woodman and Steve Turre at Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a BA in 1997 and pursued his own compositional studies by dissecting dozens of Duke Ellington scores.
Sroka made his recording debut as a leader with 2002’s impressive Fresh Sound-New Talent CD Hearsay, a stellar sextet session featuring rising young masters Jason Moran, Eric Harland and trumpeter Avishai Cohen. Shortly after the album’s release, electronic music captured his imagination, and Sroka immersed himself in synthesizers and software seeking, he said, “to reconcile 600 years of technology between the trombone and computer.” In addition to Ergo, he is a member of the psych/noise/rock collective 12,000 Trees, and a prolific film composer.
Ergo came together in 2005 when Sroka was working with a cadre of similarly-inclined musicians, unconcerned about genre conventions and performing in venues such as Mercury Lounge, 55 Bar and Galapagos with audiences open to musical exploration. Evolving out of these musically permissive forums, Ergo released its 2006 debut album Quality Anatomechanical Music on its own Actuator label, an album lauded as the year’s best debut CD by All About Jazz-NY. The original lineup featured Sroka on trombone and computer, Carl Maguire on Rhodes electric piano, Prophet Synthesizer and effects and drummer Damion Reid (best known for his work with Robert Glasper, Greg Ward and Rudresh Mahanthappa).
The album’s success led to performances at an international array of major festivals. It also led to Ergo’s ongoing relationship with Cuneiform, a label committed to working with artists who create genre-defying music, including avant-garde leaning jazz. The trio’s Cuneiform debut, 2009’s Multitude, Solitude, featured a new version of Ergo with Sroka, Maguire and drummer Shawn Baltazor, a dynamic, stylistically expansive drummer and composer whose recent gigs include two high profile concerts with Darcy James Argue's Secret Society. On Nov. 27, 2011, for Cuneiform At the Stone, the label’s two-week NYC showcase at John Zorn’s legendary club, Ergo performed with one of jazz’s most acclaimed pianists (who is now the Kennedy Center’s Advisor to Jazz), Jason Moran, as their special guest.
Ergo’s lineup on its newest CD and second Cuneiform release, If Not Inertia, took shape with pianist/keyboardist Sam Harris joining Sroka and Baltazor. Born and raised in Dallas, Tex., Harris has emerged in recent years as one of the most sought after young pianists in New York City, working regularly with heavyweights such as trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, and bassist Linda Oh.
The presence of fellow sonic seeker Mary Halvorson on three tracks of the new CD adds a good deal of drama to the trio’s sound. Like the musicians in Ergo, she’s well versed in the mainstream jazz tradition, but she’s dedicated herself to honing her own idiosyncratic improvisational toolkit with an extended palette of sounds and wide-open aesthetic that encompasses avant-rock, new music and free improv. A prolific bandleader in her own right, Halvorson tours and records with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Tomas Fujiwara, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Trevor Dunn and wind legend Anthony Braxton.
It’s no surprise that she’s joined forces on If Not Inertia with Ergo, a band that resists with every note the forces, internal and external, that work against musicians who seek new sounds.
If Not Inertia also features acoustic guitarist Sebastian Kruger as a guest on the track “Let’s.” Leader of the Brooklyn-based indie rock band Inlets, Kruger is a longtime colleague of Sroka and Baltazor.
TO DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THIS PRESS RELEASE/BIO, click HERE
Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores :: Sister Death
LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: "Unawake" (mp3)
“This is wonderful stuff - brave and experimental, yet warmly human. Make room on your folk revival shelf for something that may be influenced by folk, but is in no way a revival.” - Splendid Magazine
“The melodies are ravishing throughout - sparse and simple, solemn and uplifting. … Alec K. himself has a rich yet fragile voice, joined by equally delicious high female harmonies - classical voices with a hint of eccentric Americana. … Soaked with genuine feeling and deep spirituality… there's extraordinary depth to this music… The melodies…promise hope and celebrate fragile humans despite the darkness. Haunting, compelling, quite unique…” - Organ Magazine
Alec K. Redfearn and The Eyesores have been surprising audiences with their hypnotic, gently explosive rock music for more than a decade. Never one to follow trends, Redfearn’s kaleidoscopic visions, anchored by his extraordinary accordion work and sonorous vocals, exist on the fringes of pop music, songs that are as familiar and individual as snowflakes or fingerprints. While his deep knowledge of folk, classical and world music allows him to slip effortlessly from genre to genre, more often, he creates pieces that subvert established forms to produce work of startling originality. Stomping Gypsy rhythms collide with Appalachian dirges, Kraut rock, modern minimalism, Irish fiddles, chiming German glockenspiels, and subtle multi-layered percussion, to suggest the soundtrack for a séance or a dark science fiction epic. By using an unusual mix of electric and acoustic instrumentation, including stand up bass, accordion, French horn, percussion, doumbek, organ, and electronics, The Eyesores subvert the conventions of pop music to create rock music that is at once truly visionary, and a genuinely alternative Americana.
Sister Death is Redfearn’s most immediately accessible work, an album that draws people in without forsaking the musical and emotional complexity that makes his sound so compelling. Redfearn is blessed with an ability to compose music that doesn’t fit easily into any known category, a farsighted artist able to push music in exciting new directions, while still remaining accessible. His accordion work is nothing short of astonishing, sounding one moment like a distortion drenched electric guitarist, the next like a mellow Balkan wedding musician. In an effort to describe Redfearn’s sound, critics have compared him to artists as varied as Bertolt Brecht, Erik Satie, Faust, Steve Reich, Richard Leo Johnson, Tom Waits, Harry Partch and The Velvet Underground. Elements of those artists may resonate within his work, but they all fall short of conveying the unique and intimate beauty of his music. Redfearn’s oblique lyrics are just as evocative; they illuminate the inner dance we all do when we’re face to face with our most troubling emotions with an ironic humor that cuts to the heart of the human dilemma.
Sister Death, the 7th album by Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores, explores the mysteries of life, death, love, loss, creation, and destruction, subjects that have informed Redfearn’s songwriting since the early 90s. “The title Sister Death is taken from St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun,” Redfearn explains. “The full quote is ‘All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, from whose embrace no mortal can escape.’ I first heard these lines chanted by nuns at my grandmother’s wake in 2005. Sister Death evokes the image of a maternal, welcoming figure. Accepting the fact that everything has an end has been difficult for me, especially as I get older.”
“I spent about six years writing this record and it’s probably the most accessible release we’ve done, although my melodic obsessions and idiosyncrasies remain imbedded in the music. I spent a lot of time listening to kraut-rock, space rock and psychedelic rock for the past few years, so the songs have been built around accordion and keyboards. The biggest change in our sound is the addition of Orion Rigel Dommisse on the Acetone Top-5 Organ and vocals. She’s insanely talented and has a unique singing voice.”
Sister Death continues Redfearn’s penchant for music that’s profound, primeval and cinematic, with echoes of folk influenced melodies still drifting through the mix. “Unawake” brings to mind a Russian folk band playing an Irish lament. Redfearn’s accordion dances with Don Larson’s claw hammer banjo and the sprightly fiddles of Jimmy and Hanna Devine. Redfearn and Dommisse harmonize on a melody that makes the sinister lyrics sound almost playful. “Nothing can harm you if you create your own reality,” Redfearn says, “but living in your own reality comes at a price.” A single sustained note from an electric organ is the backdrop for the lyric of “Amplifier Hum,” a peek into the bleak void of a loveless life. Dommisse and Redfearn’s vocals have hints of Celtic and Arabic ornamentations. The instrumental “Black Ice” starts as a Baroque melody on accordion: Flamenco handclaps, skittering percussion, dramatic bass accents and desiccated banjo slowly transform the piece into a wild folk dance of indefinite origin. “Fire Shuffle” rides a mellow, bluesy keyboard rhythm supplied by Dommisse’s organ and Chris Turner’s harmonica. Halfway through the song, all hell breaks loose with an extended accordion solo from Redfearn that’s processed and manipulated to sound like a psychedelic guitar freak-out. The album closer, “In The Morning,” is a desolate love song, given a stark reading with Redfearn’s hopeless whispered vocal, droning synthesizer and Laura Gulley’s somber fiddle. Sister Death’s 12 tracks include five instrumentals that range from a dissonant Balkan meets new wave dirge to subtle Arabic pulsations highlighted by delicate, wordless female vocals full of ornamentations. There are also seven conventional songs including an agonizingly poignant reading of “St. James Infirmary” that features Redfearn and his accordion and a stark, funeral bass drum. Spellbinding, and tantalizing, Sister Death is a rich, complex work that gradually reveals its musical and emotional mysteries over repeated listening.
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