As part of our 2013 Fundraiser, New Amsterdam is partnering with Q2 Music to unveil a series of remixes of Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Partita for 8 Voices. For each week over the course of our online fundraiser, we will release a new remix via Q2 — who will stream one new remix per week on their website. To gain access to all of the remixes (download and streaming) as they are released, join the New Amsterdam 2013 Funders Club by making a tax-deductible donation here!
This October, we are proud to announce the launch of Undiscovered Islands, a new boutique-style imprint of New Amsterdam Records. Named in honor of NewAm’s inaugural concert series, Undiscovered Islands will specialize in non-traditional releases including, but not limited to: vinyl EP’s + LP’s, singles, remixes, digital-only releases, limited-edition runs, and multimedia projects. Artistically, the imprint will retain New Amsterdam’s area of focus: sophisticated, well-crafted music by trained musicians and composers that doesn’t fit succinctly into any one genre or style. However, this imprint will allow the label to explore exciting new directions and possibilities, stretching our mission and stylistic bookends in the process. New Amsterdam Records proper will continue to release 6-8 traditional full-length albums per year, and the imprint will be officially housed under its umbrella.
Undiscovered Islands launched with two limited-edition releases: a 12″ album with hand-stenciled artwork from Trevor Wilson and Vocal Ensemble and a limited-edition clear vinyl 12″ single in partnership with the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) featuring a Son Lux remix of a Judd Greenstein composition for violist Nadia Sirota. Both albums were released on October 8.
The new recording from Trevor Wilson and Vocal Ensemble, entitled All Material, introduces the group’s stunning vocal harmonies and Wilson’s adventurous, compellingly complex emotional songcraft. Consisting of five singers — male and female — and spare instrumentation including nylon-string guitar, keyboards, and digital effects, the ensemble — often known as TWVE — is a tight-knit group of friends that met while attending Bennington College. Recorded in-house by Wilson, the album has shades of Meredith Monk (for whom Wilson worked), Björk, and Dirty Projectors, while still feeling unique and determined. The album comes beautifully packaged in a limited-edition 12″ vinyl release featuring hand-stenciled artwork in a cardboard stock sleeve.
Secondly, we are proud to announce our first limited-edition clear vinyl 12″ single, released in partnership with the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). The record, which serves as the official exhibit catalogue for the 2012 SMoCA exhibit, “This Is A Present From a Small Distant World”, includes extensive exhibit documentation in the enclosed booklet and sleeve. The outer cover reflects the most prominent feature of the exhibit’s exterior: a list of items from the 1977 Golden Record that accompanied the Voyager spacecraft on its mission, an object that serves as the exhibit’s guiding inspiration. Judd Greenstein’s In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves, which appeared on violist Nadia Sirota‘s sophomore release, Baroque, was originally composed as a multi-channel installation as part of the exhibit and was premiered live by Sirota at its opening. Here, the piece appears in vinyl as a remastered single on one side, with a beautiful remix on the other by composer and electronic musician extraordinaire Son Lux, who composed the title track from yMusic’s critically acclaimed debut Beautiful Mechanical.
The self-titled debut from The Knells (a new ensemble formed by composer/guitarist Andrew McKenna Lee) featuring Mivos String Quartet and more, will be released on November 19 on New Amsterdam Records.
The Knells is a grand statement of purpose coming from Brooklyn-based artist Andrew McKenna Lee. A seasoned performer and composer who has showcased his talents in esteemed venues including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Lee created The Knellsto be a working reconciliation of the multitude of different musical styles he has absorbed: as a rock guitarist who has performed alongside legends Billy Idol and former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones; as a singer/songwriter; as a serious concert music composer; and — as he is most widely known — a classical guitar virtuoso.
The Knells is the name of both Lee’s adeptly-composed hour-long song cycle as well as the hybrid ensemble Lee assembled to perform the project, consisting of three stunning female vocalists (Nina Berman, Amanda Gregory, Katya Powder), dual electric guitars (Andrew McKenna Lee, Paul Orbell), drums (Michael McCurdy), mallet percussion (Jude Traxler), electric bass (Joseph Higgins), and the critically lauded Mivos String Quartet. Blending Renaissance polyphony, symphonic lieder, jazz, classic and progressive rock, and even ‘60s Motown vocal music, The Knells finds Lee expanding his creative scope, embracing many of the stylistic streams that have come to define modern song in a remarkably cohesive and unique experience.
The Knells was chosen for the title of the project for its connotations of sound (i.e. the ringing of a bell), its associations with death, and the way these two elements play into the overall fabric of the work. This interplay is further enhanced by the album artwork, which was designed by renowned artist Shepard Fairey. Overall, the album is an adventurous and rewarding exploration of the sounds and significance of the world around us.
This I, to be released November 19 on New Amsterdam Records, is the fourth recording from itsnotyouitsme, the duo of the two prolific and highly regarded New York musicians guitarist Grey Mcmurray and violinist/composer Caleb Burhans. In the midst of successful solo careers, Burhans and Mcmurray began playing together in 2003 under this moniker, blending and distilling their mutual love of everything from Brian Eno to J.S. Bach and Pink Floyd. Since then, the pair has carved out a unique niche in the musical scene with their ambient, post-rock, jazz-tinged and genre-defying instrumental soundscapes.
Like the duo’s first three albums on New Amsterdam Records — walled gardens, fallen monuments, and everybody’s pain is magnificent — This I continues itsnotyouitsme’s exploration of ambient sound worlds, but for the first time, creative voices outside the Mcmurray/Burhans mind meld are welcomed into the fold. The duo welcomes two highly influential and widely admired artists, bassist Skúli Sverrisson and vocalist Theo Bleckmann, to expand itsnotyouitsme’s sonic horizons and breathe new life into their compositional process.
Culled from one continuous performance, This I shows itnsotyouitsme pushing its signature flowing textural landscapes, slowly shifting harmonies, and polished timbres into a new world, adding in layers of poised but powerful intensity that showcase the gifts of the album’s guests. The result is a multidimensional work that moves from light to dark and back again, using harmonic blending and vocal layering to explore and contemplate the ample space in between. Whether delicate or forceful, each moment meditates on the power of restraint to create an enveloping and otherworldly emotional experience. As Mcmurray himself explains, “We are a small band that makes wide music. We expel our selves slowly so that we can smile with our sadness strongly.”