Celebrated new-music sextet eighth blackbird, whose last three Cedille Records albums garnered Grammy awards, continues to soar with FILAMENT, a sizzling selection of four-world premiere recordings, plus a concert performance of Philip Glass’s influential Two Pages. The title FILAMENT symbolizes the strong ties of friendship and shared musical interests connecting the composers and performers on the album. FILAMENT offers first recordings of Bryce Dessner’s Murder Ballades, a fresh and surprisingly upbeat take on a macabre genre of folk music; Nico Muhly’s Doublespeak, an homage to Glass and the insistent, propulsive repetitions of classic minimalism; and short pieces by Son Lux, To Love and This is my Line, creative remixes of sounds from other tracks on the CD. Dessner, on guitar, and Muhly, on organ, join eighth blackbird for Glass’s Two Pages, recorded live-in-concert at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
A genre-spanning musician and composer, Dessner has worked with the Kronos Quartet and Bang on a Can All-Stars and created Cincinnati’s MusicNOW festival. In the pop-music world, he’s familiar as the guitarist with the Billboard-charting, critically acclaimed indie rock band The National. Muhly has worked with Glass and with pop musicians Bjork and Sufjan Stevens. Among his credits are 11 orchestral works and two operas, one of which was performed at the English National Opera and New York’s Metropolitan Opera.
A sextet of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano, eighth blackbird combines the finesse of a string quartet, the energy of a rock band, and the audacity of a storefront theater company. The Chicago-based “super-musicians” (Los Angeles Times) are “a polished, personable, routinely dazzling sextet” (New York Times). In recent concert seasons eighth blackbird has performed at Carnegie Hall (Zankel and Stern Halls), London’s Barbican Centre, Washington, D.C.’s Library of Congress and Kennedy Center, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, the Eastman School of Music, and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Millennium Park. The ensemble’s Cedille Records catalog includes the Grammy-winning albums Meanwhile, Lonely Motel: Music from Slide, andStrange Imaginary Animals and the albums Fred, Beginnings, and Thirteen Ways, eighth blackbird’s first commercial release.
“This album demands much of its performers and audience, but the vitality of the music and Eighth Blackbird’s stunning virtuosity make it a compelling experience.”
Blair Sanderson All Music
“The performances by eighth blackbird (yes, it’s not capitalized) are stunning in their precision and incisiveness.”
Robert Carl Fanfare
“Artful remixes by Son Lux, featuring the voice of Shara Worden, round out a program that ends up feeling surprisingly cohesive: meditative music full of quirks and kinks.”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim New York Times
“I find this album irresistible. Is it the great audio engineering? the performers? the music? my music system? Filament has my furniture dancing.”
Bob Neill Positive Feedback
“This new release from the Chicago-based contemporary music supergroup cleverly connects the groundbreaking repetitive structures in Glass’s music with American folk tunes, contemporary compositions, and poppy vocals.”
Jill Kimball Second Inversion
“Neatly done, with wit.”
Fiona Maddocks The Guardian
“One of our greatest new-music ensembles—perhaps one of our greatest chamber-music ensembles, period—Chicago-based sextet Eighth Blackbird’s programming is almost as tight as their ensemble playing. But as meticulous as their programming may be, on concert or on recordings, it is seldom as intensely focused as it is on their latest album, Filament.”
Daniel Stephen Johnson WQXR
“Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly collaborate here with eighth blackbird both as composers and performers, making this release an all-star new music collaboration.”
Jeff Zumfelde Colorado Public Radio