RIP Shivkumar Sharma 

Source: Wikipedia.

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (13 January 1938 – 10 May 2022) was an Indian classical musician and santoor player who is credited with adapting the santoor for Indian classical music. As a music composer he collaborated with Indian flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia under the collaborative name Shiv–Hari and composed music for many Indian films including Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989), and Lamhe (1991).

AMN Picks of the Week: Ajna / High Castle Teleorkestra / Gianluca Becuzzi / Reid Karris / Somnolent Priests

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.

Ajna – Mors Ultra (2022)
High Castle Teleorkestra – The Egg That Never Opened (2022)
Gianluca Becuzzi – The Bunker Years [2006-2014] (2019)
Reid Karris – The Happy Life of the Tired (2022)
Somnolent Priests – Act I: Awareness (2021)

AMN Reviews: Wild Up – Julius Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy (2022; New Amsterdam Records)

New music ensemble Wild Up continues its series of Julius Eastman releases with Joy Boy. Eastman is a tragic and underappreciated figure in modern classical music whose works are just starting to get recognized over three decades from his death. Not unlike last year’s Femenine, on Joy Boy Wild Up reconstructs Eastman’s compositional framework from scores, notes, word of mouth, and likely a fair amount of interpretation. Each piece involves a subset of the group’s broad instrumentation, including guitar, cello, violin, viola, bass, trumpet, trombone, sax, flute, bassoon, organ, percussion, and voice.

The title track is an example of Eastman’s jagged minimalism, with flute, horns, strings, acoustic guitar, and voices providing floating staccato bursts of repeating or similar themes. The vocal contributions are extensive and complex while remaining largely wordless. The result is a shimmering mass of sounds that ebb and flow for 10 minutes.

Buddha appears in two pieces, Buddha (Field) and Buddha (Path), both based on a one-page graphical score with scribbled notation. The former is a slow-moving and majestic set of layered drones, relying heavily on bassoon, organ, horns, and strings. The latter is a rather discordant reading with sax and trombone supporting strings that explore upper registers. The individual instruments stand out more clearly and elicit a form of sadness approaching darker thoughts through a deliberately-paced baritone sax solo.

Touch Him When, is also split across two tracks. In contrast to the other efforts on this release, it consists largely of electric guitar and baritone guitar. Touch Him When (Light) is sparse with long-held notes and chords, featuring these instruments without distortion or effects. The playing varies between being gentle and short bursts of assertiveness. Touch Him When (Heavy) relies on similar underlying structures, but with overdriven chording, harsh tones, and Frippertronics. In fact, the approach resembles drone metal at times, with walls of distortion setting the context for dissonant motifs.

Stay On It wraps up the album by returning to a more clearly classical form. A large-scale piece with minimalistic influences, the entire ensemble appears to be involved including vocals repetitively chanting the title. While lilting and catchy, Stay On It also represents Eastman’s penchant for not allowing listener complacency. The softer melodies are accompanied by bursts of discord, with outside sax solos and instrumental wails. Indeed, the track seems to tear itself apart a few times, breaking down into chaos before returning to its main theme. But the chaos is ultimately victorious, reducing said main theme to a quiet piano outro.

AMN Picks of the Week: Roland Kayn / Beissel & Roach / Experimental Music From Italy / Music Inspired By The Cinema Of David Cronenberg / Serries, Malmendier & Zuydervelt

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.

Roland Kayn – De-Composite (2004)
Frank Beissel / Steve Roach – Nautical Twilight (2022)
Various Artists – Anthology Of Post industrial And Experimental Music From Italy (2022)
Various Artists – The Body Of Horror – Music Inspired By The Cinema Of David Cronenberg (2022)
Dirk Serries / Tom Malmendier / Rutger Zuydervelt – Epitaph. Live At Roadburn Redux 2021 (2022)

Living Classical Composers of Note

Source: Big Think. Hyperbole aside, this is not a bad list (and yes, I know that there are many more not on the list…)

Like any modern art movement, contemporary classical music embraces rather than shuns experimentation. In John Cage’s infamous three-movement composition 4’33’’ (1952), the performers sit in silence for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The “music” is whatever sounds that naturally occur in the environment, from screeching chairs to coughing audience members.

Not all contemporary composers have moved in this direction, though. For every musician seeking to push the conceptual envelope, another uses electronic sounds and other technology innovations simply to build upon or comment on the work of those long-dead composers whose names and melodies continue to come to mind when we use the term “classical.”

AMN Picks of the Week: Gauci, Eisenberg & Mela / Nyctalllz / Natasha Barrett / Chemical Resistance / Gianluca Becuzzi

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.

Gauci / Eisenberg / Mela – Live at Scholes Street Studio (2022)
Nyctalllz – Purifying Noises for Your Demonic Genomes (2022)
Natasha Barrett – Diabolus/Ras (2022)
Chemical Resistance – Grief of Loneliness (2022)
Gianluca Becuzzi – DeepeR (2022)

AMN Picks of the Week: NYIÞ / MAW / Tony Oxley / Stetson, Martin, Sharp & MacDonald / Jose Lencastre

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.

NYIÞ – ᛬ᚢᛁᛋᚿᛁ•ᚼᛆᛏᛁ•ᚼᚱᛅ᛬ (2022)
MAW (Meadows / Ackerley / Wallace) – A Maneuver Within (2022)
Tony Oxley – Unreleased 1974-2016 (2022)
Stetson / Martin / Sharp / MacDonald – Void Patrol (2022)
Jose Lencastre / Common Ground – Common Ground (2022)