AMN Reviews: Kate Soper / Wet Ink Ensemble – Ipsa Dixit [New World Records 80805-2]

The junctions and disjunctions that bind and divide language and what we try to mean with it: this is an old and perennial problem for philosophy and one that provides the subject of Ipsa Dixit, composer/vocalist Kate Soper’s six-movement work for soprano and small chamber ensemble.

The work, which was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in music, was initially written as separate pieces between 2010 and 2016; as a unified work it was premiered in Troy, New York in December 2016. As presented here on two discs, Ipsa Dixit is a 90-minute fusion of classical and contemporary texts, spoken and sung, underscored  by flute, violin and percussion.

Soper’s voice provides the dramatic center around which the various parts cohere; she speaks, lectures, recites, questions, and above all sings in a beautiful, precise soprano. As she does all this, the Wet Ink Ensemble’s flutist Erin Lesser, violinist Josh Modney, and percussionist Ian Antonio play a score that tends toward a sparse, modernist vocabulary of fragmented chromaticism and timbral interplay. The passages for voice and flute, and voice and violin in movements II and VI respectively, balance on the subtle gradations of tone within comparable ranges and, as duets, bring out a certain paradoxical sensuousness implicated in austerity. It’s one irony in a work built on ironies, starting with the title, a feminization of “ipse dixit,” the legal term for an unsupported claim. Soper is quoted in the liner note as saying that Ipsa Dixit is about the difficulties of conveying human experience in language. But despite its ambiguities and inevitable lapses, language still allows us to make ourselves understood, and that may be the fundamental conclusion Soper’s work draws us to. Let Guido d’Arezzo, whom Soper quotes in the final movement, have the last words: “Just as everything that can be spoken can be written, so everything can be made into song that can be written. Therefore everything can be made into song that can be spoken.”

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Picks of the Week: Jeton Hoxha / Carter, Holmes, Putman, Greene & Ughi / Ross Hammond / Zeni & Albini / Mimmo, Corda & Orru / Desiderii Marginis

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Jeton Hoxha – Vowel (2018)

Carter / Holmes / Putman / Greene / Ughi – Telepatia Liquida (2018)

Ross Hammond – Riding Dragons in Winter (2018)

Geva Zeni / Steve Albini – Maximum Implosion (2018)

Gianni Mimmo / Silvia Corda / Adriano Orru – Clairvoyance (2018)

Desiderii Marginis – Vita Arkivet (2018)

5049 Records Podcast Episode 181 – Paul Shapiro 

Source: 5049 Records.

A mainstay of the Lower East Side, saxophonist Paul Shapiro has played on hundreds of records with artists as diverse as John Zorn and Jay-Z, David Byrne and Michael Jackson. He has a huge and rich tenor sound and has released four deeply soulful records on Tzadik’s Radical Jewish series, all of which feature killer bands playing Paul’s original compositions. Paul came over just two weeks ago for a lively conversation on a day when there was a lot of construction in my building. Please forgive the noise!



October 20, 2018
Peter Evans & Levy Lorenzo, JACK
Peter Evans Levy Lorenzo

October 20, 2018
Aaron Burnett Solo, JACK
Aaron Burnett

October 17, 2018
Cooper-Moore & Stephen Gauci, HappyLucky no.1
Cooper-Moore Stephen Gauci

October 17, 2018
Daniel Carter & Strings, HappyLucky no.1
Brent Arnold Eylem Basaldi Daniel Carter John Murchison Sami Abu Shumays Tom Swafford

Tashi Dorji’s Expansive World of Experimental Guitar

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Growing up in Bhutan in the ’90s, guitarist Tashi Dorji discovered lots of different music. But playing it wasn’t so easy. “We didn’t own amps; we didn’t even know how to acquire one,” he says of his various short-lived high school bands. “A friend of mine had to build one. We had a cover band that played everything from classic rock to Nirvana to hair metal. Anything we heard, we wanted to play.”

Things changed when Dorji moved to America in 2000 to attend college. Seeing so many people play their own music inspired him to set off on his own path. “I met punk rock kids at college who took me to DIY shows, and it was so mindblowing,” he recalls. “That led me to everything else.” Self-taught on guitar, Dorji at first wrote his own music, then veered toward improvisation. “When I first heard people like John Coltrane and John Zorn, I was profoundly affected,” he says. “I was like, ‘Whoa, these guys just play?’ I had always been a very anti-authoritarian kind of person, and that idea was really appealing.”

Since then, Dorji has built a impressive catalog, both as a solo guitarist (switching between acoustic and electric) and in collaboration with many of today’s most interesting improvisers