Source: New Amsterdam Records.
Brooklyn, N.Y.—On June 18, 2021, Los Angeles-based musical collective Wild Up will release the premiere studio recording of Julius Eastman’s “Femenine.” Arriving on New Amsterdam Records, Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine is the opening entry in Wild Up’s multi-volume anthology celebrating Eastman, the late composer whose amalgamated musical vision was repeatedly dismissed during its day, but is now being unearthed to critical acclaim.
Championed by The New York Times for their “boisterously theatrical sensibility,” Wild Up slowly comes alive inside this recording of “Femenine,” the epitome of Eastman’s longform “organic music”—where phrases live inside of phrases, multiple layers ebbing and flowing with the passage of time. Within “Femenine,” Eastman, whose music The New Yorker hailed as “brazen and brilliant,” evolves material based on a two-note, 13-beat “prime” melody—a cosmic clamoring of bells. Simultaneously static and active, “Femenine” lulls listeners into musical reverie.
Eastman was young, gay, and Black at a time when it was even more difficult to be young, gay, and Black. He swerved through academia, discos, Europe, Carnegie Hall, and the downtown experimental music scene. And in 1990, at age 49, Eastman died in Buffalo, New York, less than a decade after the New York City Sheriff’s Department threw most of his scores, belongings, and ephemera into the East Village snow. In Wild Up’s unique 70-minute interpretation of Eastman’s open score, the ensemble is challenged to work in dialogue with the composer’s own creative impulses; in doing so, the band channels his individualistic spirit, augmenting “Femenine” with strategically placed solos—individual cantor-like proclamations. The recorded performance reflects a blend of strict adherence to Eastman’s specific instructions with an embrace of individual and collective decision-making, a continuous three-way conversation between Eastman, the individual members of Wild Up, and the group as a whole.