FALL 2011: It’s fitting that New Amsterdam Records will launch our third web format in a season that includes releases by two artists whose earlier albums were indelibly tied to the unveiling of our earlier websites. Cellist and singer Jody Redhage, whose 2007 All Summer In a Day was the very first album to be released on our then-fledgling label, has continued to develop her cello/vocal project in the four years since its release. Her new album, of minutiae and memory (August), includes rereleases and rerecordings of two tracks from that earlier album, by Paula Matthusen, and Derek Muro (along with a remastered version of a piece by Anna Clyne), and adds five striking new pieces by Missy Mazzoli, Ryan Brown, Joshua Penman, Wil Smith, and Stefan Weisman. Whereas All Summer In A Day was a wide-ranging survey of vocal and cello composition, reflecting the eclectic selection of composers that Jody chose to commission, of minutiae and memory takes a more focused approach. Every piece on the album uses electronics, and Jody’s voice and cello are frequently pre-recorded and processed back into the electronic mix. The result is an album that coheres around a central set of sounds: Jody’s masterful cello playing and ethereal singing, but also the production of Ben Wittman and Dave Glasser. It’s a new sound and a unique album.
In September, New Amsterdam will release two long-awaited albums: the second studio album and third album overall from the violin/guitar duo of Caleb Burhans and Grey McMurray, itsnotyouitsme, and the debut album from the happily ubiquitous, powerhouse sextet, yMusic (Alex Sopp, Hideaki Aomori, CJ Camerieri, Rob Moose, Nadia Sirota, and Clarice Jensen). When itsnotyouitsme released their debut album (walled gardens) in 2008, it coincided with the launch of our redesigned website, and was one of the albums that ushered in a wave of newfound attention for New Amsterdam. Their new album, everybody’s pain is magnificent, is the product of four years of touring and recording, and is their biggest and most personal effort to date, bringing new forms and modes of expression into the itsnotyouitsme palette. The album expands upon the duo’s previous loop-based work to include a greater breadth of influence, revealing a more ambitious and emotional narrative behind the glowing and warm textures that have become the group’s hallmark.
yMusic’s Beautiful Mechanical is a landmark for New Amsterdam Records, and a fitting match for the group that most clearly lives in both the classical and indie rock worlds: this record is the first to intentionally reach out to composers on “both sides of the aisle”, classical and rock, to form an album that uses yMusic’s formidable and diverse skills to articulate the shared space that they, and the six composers on the album, all inhabit. Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and Ryan Lott (Son Lux) are mainly known in indie rock circles, while Gabriel Kahane and New Amsterdam co-directors Sarah Kirkland Snider and Judd Greenstein are better-known among classical listeners. But Kahane has a strong singer-songwriter following and Snider’s Penelope charted on the CMJ 200, while Clark, Worden, and Lott have all been commissioned by classical ensembles in the past, so more than anything, this album is simply a part of the strange and wonderful new musical world that we love so much at New Amsterdam.
In November, New Amsterdam will release two composer-centered albums: drawn only once (John Supko, performed by Due East) and Requiem (Gregory Spears).drawn only once features a pair of Supko’s multimedia projects, Littoral and This window makes me feel, presented in both CD and 5.1 surround sound DVD formats. Littoral is a large work for Due East (Erin Lesser, flute, and Greg Beyer, percussion) that melds flute, electronics and a massive percussion setup, along with texts by contemporary Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom and 16th Century English writer Richard Hakluyt. Supko calls Littoral “music of shifting terrains, each with its distinct sense of time and color and space… more alluring than any destination plotted on a timetable.” The piece is accompanied by an entrancing video by Kristine Marx, with rapidly shifting geometric forms superimposed over transient oceanic landscapes. Supko’s piece This window makes me feel is based on Robert Fitterman’s brilliant poem of the same title, which makes use of completions of the poem’s title based on hundreds of Google searches, chronicling a vast range of humane poetic sensibilities. The work is written for Due East plus pre-recorded mezzo-soprano, keyboards, and other electronics, and is accompanied on DVD by a video by Don Sheehy, which captures the hysteria of the congested cityscape that visually amplifies the pre-recorded poetic whispers of Fittermans’ poem.
Requiem is the first recording by composer Gregory Spears, and features the title track — scored for six voices and, baroque viola, harp, troubadour harp, recorders, and electric organ — which was premiered in June of 2010 as an opera/dance collaboration with choreographer Christopher Williams for Williams’ dance production Hen’s Teeth, integrating imagery of 19th century Breton fairy tales, Greek mythology, and middle age relics. Likewise, the text of Spears’ Requiem transitions freely from traditional Latin requiem texts to Breton and Middle French, and allows for a multi-referential and conceptually challenging aural/visual experience. Although the music is scored for (mostly) renaissance/baroque instruments and is performed by an ensemble of early music specialists, Requiem‘s harmony and form are unattached to a specific musical era, with Feldman-esque chords, Mahlerian drama, and Reichian repetition, which work synergistically to heighten the intricacy of the musical experience.