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Release date: Sept. 11, 2015
Enterprising eighth blackbird Connects With Indie Music Icons on ‘Filament’ CD
Grammy-winning sextet’s latest Cedille label album presents world-premiere recordings of works by Bryce Dessner of The National, Nico Muhly, and Son Lux
Disc includes live recording of Philip Glass’s ‘Two Pages’ at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
American new-music sextet eighth blackbird, which won Grammy Awards for each of its last three Cedille Records albums, continues to connect with genre-spanning, cutting-edge composers on FILAMENT, a CD of world-premiere recordings of works by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and Son Lux, plus a Philip Glass classic.
The ensemble’s new album, FILAMENT, was produced by Dessner, a Brooklyn-based composer, guitarist, and member of the Grammy-nominated, Billboard-charting indie rock band The National. FILAMENT will be available September 11 on CD and as a digital download, with an LP to follow. The 16-page CD booklet features original artwork, photography, and design by New York-based artist and architect Karl Jensen (Cedille Records CDR 90000 157).
Premieres include Dessner’s Murder Ballades and Muhly’s Doublespeak, both written for eighth blackbird, and Son Lux’s To Love and This is my Line, a remix created from the album’s other tracks.
Dessner, on guitar, and Muhly, on organ, join eighth blackbird for a live-in-concert recording of Glass’s mesmerizing Two Pages at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
The album’s title, FILAMENT, is a metaphor for the fiber of friendship, collaboration, and mutual influence connecting the composers and performers on the album, explains eighth blackbird flutist Tim Munro in the CD booklet.
“Philip Glass [b. 1937] is the album’s benevolent grandfather,” Munro says.
Dessner (b. 1976) digs into a dark recess of American folk music for Murder Ballades (2013): an old genre known as murder ballads, which recount lurid details of violent homicides, often based on real events.
In composing a work for eighth blackbird, Dessner says he decided to “let great American folk music inspire a great American new music ensemble.” He crafted a set of seven instrumental ballads inspired by the tunes, stories, and playing styles from this strange tradition. The ballads include pieces loosely based on classic tunes, plus Dessner’s original compositions “woven out of the depths of the many months I spent inhabiting the seductive music and violent stories of these murder ballads,” the composer writes. His website is brycedessner.com.
Muhly (b. 1981) wrote Doublespeak for eighth blackbird in 2012 as an homage to Philip Glass in honor of his 75th birthday. Muhly says he set out to write “the most fun piece possible” for the ensemble, while pointing back to the 1970s, “when classical music perfected obsessive repetition.”
Muhly is a composer of chamber music, orchestral music, sacred music, opera, ballet, and music for collaborators across a variety of fields. He has composed on commission from St. Paul’s Cathedral and Carnegie Hall, and has written choral music for the Tallis Scholars and the Hilliard Ensemble, songs for Anne Sofie von Otter and Iestyn Davies, an encore for violinist Hilary Hahn, and a viola concerto for Nadia Sirota. More at nicomuhly.com.
New York-based recording artist and composer Son Lux (Ryan Lott, b. 1979) created the remixes To Love and This is my Line using only sounds gathered from the rest of the album, with one exception: the voice of Shara Worden, best known as the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of experimental music project My Brightest Diamond. Son Lux is at music.sonluxmusic.com.
Glass’s early Two Pages, from 1968, “is fast, stark, repetitive, hypnotic,” Munro says. The score consists of two pages occupied by a single unison line of music written for any combination of instruments. “Gazing at the eponymous two pages of music, black with a continuous stream of notes, the prospective performers must contemplate walking a tightrope, with no net below,” Munro says. The composer’s website is philipglass.com.
‘Super-musicians’ eighth blackbird
The Chicago-based, three-time Grammy Award-winning sextet eighth blackbird has provoked and impressed audiences for 20 years across the country and around the world with impeccable precision and a signature style. The ensemble’s “super-musicians” (Los Angeles Times) combine the finesse of a string quartet, the energy of a rock band, and the audacity of a storefront theater company. The name “eighth blackbird” derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’s evocative, aphoristic poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1917).
A long-term relationship with Chicago’s Cedille Records has produced six acclaimed recordings and three Grammy Awards: for strange imaginary animals (2008), Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (2011) and Meanwhile (2013).
Ensemble members on FILAMENT include flutist Munro; clarinetist Michael J. Maccaferri; violinist Yvonne Lam; cellist Nicholas Photinos; percussionist Matthew Duvall; and pianist Lisa Kaplan. (The sextet’s present lineup includes a new flutist, Nathalie Joachim.) More at eighthblackbird.org.
Recording Dates and Venue
In addition to producer Dessner, FILAMENT’s recording team includes engineers Jonathan Low (Dessner and Muhly) and Ryan Ingebritsen (Glass). The album was recorded May 1-2, 2013, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Marking its 25th anniversary during the 2014–2015 season, Grammy Award-winning Cedille Records (pronounced say-DEE) has been dedicated to showcasing the most noteworthy classical artists in and from the Chicago area since its debut in November 1989.
The audiophile-oriented label releases every new album in multiple formats: a physical CD; a 96 kHz, 24-bit, studio-quality FLAC download; and a 320 Kbps MP3 download.
Cedille Records is distributed in the Western Hemisphere by Naxos of America and its distribution partners, by Select Music in the U.K., and by other independent distributors in the Naxos network in major international classical music markets.
An independent nonprofit enterprise, Cedille Records is the label of Cedille Chicago, NFP (formerly The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation). Headquarters are at 1205 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago, IL 60640; call (773) 989-2515; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: cedillerecords.org.
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(Cedille Records CDR 90000 157)
Bryce Dessner: Murder Ballades (18:48)
Nico Muhly: Doublespeak (9:02)
Son Lux: To Love (2:02)
Philip Glass: Two Pages (16:16)*
*Bryce Dessner, guitar; Nico Muhly, organ
Son Lux: This is my Line (3:01)