The Great Flood of 1927

Welcome to Sonosphere the podcast that explores the sounds all around us in art and music movements through history. Sonosphere is now on WYXR 91.7 FM in Memphis, TN every Monday from 4-5pm. Today’s episode is a harrowing tale of a natural disaster that ravaged much of middle America, especially the South.

The Great Flood of 1927 was one of the most catastrophic floods in our nation’s history. In the summer of 1926 heavy rains started to fall along the Mississippi River, these heavy rains kept up and in March of 1927 levees started to break which led to flooding from Illinois to Mississippi displacing nearly 650,000 people and destroying 16 million acres of land. 

In this episode we will discuss the formation of the Mississippi River, the events that led to the flood, the red cross’ response and how they used the media to shape public opinion, as well as  Blues songs that helped inform the public about the human turmoil that was a direct result of the flood. Listen in as we hear from Christopher Morris, Scotti Parish and David Evans about this extraordinary event.

Blues musicians presented the most accurate details about the Great Flood of 1927. There was greater Public awareness of the atrocities happening along the Mississippi. Blues songs of the time captured the events and hardships that black people endured during the flood. Though many blues songs were made about the flood we decided to showcase Backwater Blues by Bessie Smith. We spoke with David Evans about the origins of the song, how it became an anthem of the flood, and how the song inspired more musicians to sing about the flood. 

Today we’ve heard songs by BBQ Bob, Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, and many of the blues songs feature artists like pianist James P Johnson who got their start with Black Swan records in early 20s. Sonosphere covered the short tenure of America’s first black-owned record label, Black Swan and the opera singer who shares the labels name – check it out on sonospherepodcast.com to hear the episode on the opera Singer, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield and stay tuned for the Black Swan record label episode’s release in June.

Today we presented the story of possibly the worst natural disaster in our country’s history. The great flood of 1927 was of epic proportion. The flood displaced 650,000 residents and destroyed 16 million acres of land. The toll wrought along the Mississippi River from Cairo to the Gulf of Mexico forced people to seek refuge in Red Cross concentration camps. These camps were run in a manner that kept up the status-quo. Black men were forced to work on the levees in order to receive provisions. The levees were patrolled by armed national guardsmen. If anyone tried to escape they were severely beaten or killed. The government and Red Cross used technologies such as radio broadcast to disseminate information about the flood. Northerners got on board with the narrative that they were helping the desperate south. The South rejected this notion as they saw very little relief if any at all. 

Blues songs of the day projected the struggles and tragedies in the delta. We highlighted Bessie Smith and her song Backwater Blues today. Although it was not written about the flood of 1927 it was released just as the Levees were breaking along the Mississippi. The song gained national notoriety in America. The song became an anthem of the Flood and led the way to many more songs written about the Great Flood of 1927 as well as songs pertaining to other natural disasters. When you listen to any of the songs about the flood you are transported there you gain a perspective about those that were affected by the great flood. These songs are time capsules of a time of havoc and disillusion in Black southern America. 

Underscore: Steven R. Smith

Welcome to the Sonosphere podcast. This episode we feature Steven R. Smith.

Steven is behind projects like Hala Strana, Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Passerine, Ulaan Markhor and releases solo recordings under his label, Worstward Recordings. Active since the mid-90s, Smith releases a solo album this year called Spring and out in September is his project’s Ulaan Passerine’s Sun Spear. We will hear tunes from both plus a playlist curated by Steven himself. Join us!

Black Swan Records

Welcome to Sonosphere the podcast that explores the sounds all around us, in art and music movements through history.

Today we discuss the first black owned recording company Black Swan Records which sold popular music to black audiences. Its existence was brief, it was only active for two years from 1923 to 1925. During this time however, the label released over 180 records – more than any other black owned record company until the 1950s. Today we’ll talk about the historical context in which the founder, Harry Pace, began and operated the label with mentor W.E.B. DuBois and how his partnership with Memphis blues man W.C. Handy kicked off Pace’s interest in the music industry.

We begin our story of Black Swan Records by setting the context of the times. Performers of recorded songs were becoming pop icons and American celebrities. By the end of WWI recorded music began to take precedence over live performances as proof of musicianship. There is not a lot of information on Black Swan Records, we rely mostly on a website called Black Past, and two dissertations by graduate students Stuart Lucas Tully from LSU, and Jacqueline Brellenthin from Univ of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as well as David Suisman’s  Co- workers in the Kingdom of Culture: Black Swan Records and the Political Economy of African American Music.

According to David Suisman writing about the Political Economy of African American music, “Black Swan’s burden was to chart a course between elite culture and popular culture, between the color blindness of music and the racism of the music business, between ideologically based enterprise and the impinging realities of capitalist markets.”

Singer and actor Ethel Waters wearing costume and seated backstage, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February – April 1940. (Photo by Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art/Getty Images)
James P. Johnson

Founder, Harry Pace was viewed as a key figure along with W.E.B. DuBois in personifying black entrepreneurialism in the 20th century and beyond.

Track List:

  1. Alberta Hunter – He’s a Darn Good Man
  2. Mamie Smith – Crazy Blues
  3. James P. Johnson – If I could be with you
  4. Ethel Waters – Down Home Blues
  5. James P. Johnson – Liza
  6. W.C. Handy – St. Louis Blues
  7. W.C. Handy – Yellow Dog Blues
  8. Katie Crippen – Blind Man Blues
  9. Carroll Clark – Carry me back to Tennessee
  10. James P. Johnson – Charleston
  11. Charles Wakefield Cadman – At Dawning (David Wright)
  12. James P. Johnson – Snowy Morning Blues
  13. James P. Johnson – Blue Note Boogie
  14. Ethel Waters – I got Rhythm
  15. Mamie Smith – Da Da Strain

Underscore: Christian Fennesz

Today on Sonosphere Amy talks with Christian Fennesz, electronic music composer and musician. Amy caught up with Fennesz at the annual Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. As the first in-person fest in two years, Big Ears was bigger than ever. Acts from all over the nation and the world descended upon the smokey mountain city and brought amazing sounds, visuals, and excellence in musical composition. Always a Sonosphere favorite!

Amy and Fennesz at Big Ears 2022

Join Chris and Amy live from WYXR studio in Memphis for some tunes by Fennesz and collaborators like Sparklehorse, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ulver, and more! Christian Fennesz left for his U.S. tour after Big Ears. For more information on Fennesz please visit his website.

Fennesz performing at Big Ears 2022

Track List:

  1. Fennesz/Ulver – Only the Poor Have to Travel
  2. King Midas Sound/Fennesz – On my Mind
  3. Fennesz/David Sylvian – Transit
  4. Glenn Gould Gathering
  5. Sparklehorse, PJ Harvey – Piano Fire
  6. Sparklehorse/Fennesz – Goodnight Sweetheart
  7. Fennesz/Ryuichi Sakamoto – Haru
  8. Tim Hecker – Celestina
  9. Jim O’Rourke/Sonic Youth – Hungara Vivo
  10. Oneohtrix Point Never – Auto & Allo
  11. Jensen Sportag – Rain Code (Fennesz Remix)

Detective No. 1

Ready to score.

Today we talk with Detective – a collective of musicians, singers, songwriters and friends. In 2019 they released an album showcasing the range of their skills – from Blaxploitation to eerie sci-fi synths, this group really does it all!

We discuss Detective’s influences, favorite movies and technique’s they used to arrange the album. We also talk with Josh Breeden, aka St. Francis Elevator Ride, the “visual maestro” of the group. Josh brings video and digital art and design, driving the whole band’s film noir and horror aesthetic.

Come out to Black Lodge on Friday, March 18th for the entire experience!

Black Opera: Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, the Black Swan

Welcome to Sonosphere on WYXR 91.7 FM or wherever you get your podcasts.

Today on the show we feature Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield aka Black Swan in the vocal concert tradition of late 19th century America.

We will hear from Professor Adam Gustafson who has written about Greenfield as America’s first black pop star for The Conversation an academic journal and is a professor of music at Penn State. We talk about the Greenfield’s early life and rise in the operatic and pop scene in the 19th century.

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield came of age in antebellum America and grew her career at a time when European operatic, concert songs made singers like Jenny Lind and Catherine Hayes rich and famous.

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, a.k.a. Black Swan

The concert soprano, Greenfield, was different. She was born a slave in Mississippi and raised by an abolitionist in Philadelphia. When she hit the pop scene in the 1850s, in Professor Gustafson words, she “shattered preexisting beliefs about artistry and race.”

In this show we’ll also exclusively hear black opera singers from Leontyn Price and Jessye Norman to Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut up in my Bones, which premiered at the New York Metropolitan Opera earlier this year. While there is no known recording of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, we will hear Revella Hughes, another great soprano from the 1920s, and maybe one of the first African American opera singers ever recorded. We’ll hear a phonograph recording from 1921 from the Black Swan record label, the label named for Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield.

Thanks for joining us.

Tracklist:

Norma Act 1: Casta Dive (1980) Vincenzo Bellini, Leontyne Price, Henry Lewis

Dido and Aeneas, Z. 626 / Act 3 Henry Purcell, Jessye Norman, English Chamber Orchestra, Raymond Leopard

Porgy and Bess / Act 2 George Gershwin, Willard White, Leona Mitchell, Cleveland Orchestra

Dream with Me – Peter Pan Leonard Bernstein, Harolyn Blackwell

Tosca Act 2: Vissi d’arte, Vissi d’amore Giacomo Puccini, Leontyne Price (1963)

Green Finch and Linnet Bird (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) Stephen Sondheim, Harolyn Blackwell

Vier letze Lieder, 2 September Richard Strauss, Jessye Norman

Peculiar Grace (Fire Shut Up in my Bones) Terrance Blanchard, Will Liverman

At Dawning Charles Wakefield Cadman, Revella Hughes

Sonic Tonic 2021 Finale

Welcome to the last Sonic Tonic mixtape in 2021. We don’t know what’s in store for 2022 but we will dance somehow. Today we’re bringing some dancing tunes, some yacht rock, nervous new wave, and so much more in this Sonic Tonic 2021 Finale mix. Share with your party guests and enjoy (cautiously) the ride into 2022.

Sonic Tonic Design by Natalie Hoffman

Tracks Heard in this Mix:

1-4 in reverse
5-10 in reverse
11-15 in reverse
WYXR Studio during Sonic Tonic Happy Hour mixtape

This Sonic Tonic show aired live on WYXR 91.7 FM in Memphis on December 20th.

Underscore: Darius Jones

It’s been 5 years since Darius Jones last released a record under his own name, and Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation), a solo saxophone record, breaks new ground for the genre and for Darius as a recording artist. 

Sonosphere had the pleasure to sit down with Darius and discuss his approach to Raw Demoon Alchemy, his childhood in Virginia, improvisation and black futurism.

Cover art by Risha Rox

We also spoke about the inspiration behind the album’s art, a beautiful world built by Darius for an unknown future.

“Born out of a live performance in fall 2019, during the last stop of his tour in Portland, OR, saxophonist Darius Jones renders a solo effort that evokes sadness, rage, and confusion, all the while still holding for glimmers of hope for the future.” 

Don’t miss this one folks. Tune in weekly on WYXR 91.7 fm and monthly to wherever you get your podcasts.

Photo credit by earshot.org

Underscore: Angelica Olstad

On this episode of Sonosphere you’ll hear from pianist Angelica Olstad on her third EP, Transmute she released back in February. The NYC-based artist creates immersive experiences combining “deconstructed” classical music with electronic elements, field recordings, and film. On Transmute, Olstad re-arranges RavelGriffes, and Fauré to paint a snapshot of NYC during the first months of the pandemic.

We’ll also get to hear some songs Angelica shared that kept her moving through the pandemic at the end of the episode.

Birth of Modern Music Series Part 7: Florence B. Price

In 2009 hundreds of Florence B. Price compositions were recovered from an abandoned house in southern Illinois. Throughout the past decade these pieces began to be transcribed and distributed throughout the world. Florence B. Price’s works pull from negro-spirituals and music of the times.

The southern influence is apparent with jubilee dances and bouncy rhythms drawing you to Arkansas and the natural beauty that exists there. She was also influenced by Russian composer Antonin Dvorak. When she moved to Chicago, her compositions still reflected her southern roots and as you will learn she kept an ear to the ground on the happenings of the music scene during her time in chicago. She was much more than a composer, she also taught many students including Margaret Bonds, who was a black pianist and composer.

On this episode, part 7 of our Birth of Modern Music series, we dive into the life and work of Florence B. Price. We talk with Karen Walwyn, A. Kori Hill, Douglas Shadle and Maeve Brophy about who she was, and how her music told her story.

Thanks to A. Kori Hill, Maeve Brophy, Karen Walwyn, and Douglas Shadle for talking with us, and sharing their experience and knowledge on Florence B. Price’s life and music.

Sonic Tonic 3

Stream Sonic Tonic 3 on all the platforms and tune in to wyxr.org Mondays 4-5pm CT for Sonosphere program streaming live.

Tracklist: Nakweda Dream – Zru VogueInterzone – Joy Division Model Worker – Magazine Floss – Gomme Private Idaho – B-52sHalf-Life – Martin Lloyd Maquinas – Cuidad Lineal Palais D’amour – Bal Pare Running After Ganymede – Jack Name Pretender – Black Marble Mickey, Please. – Bene Geserit Lidda – Mammane Sani Et Son Orgue Fire By The River – Harumi Change In Autumn’s Feral Depths – Nonconnah Feat. Owen Pallett & Jenn Taiga

From 1920-2020: The Theremin, 100 Years Later

This week on Sonosphere we celebrate 100 years of the Theremin as our last episode of 2020. It’s been a challenging year, and ending on this challenging, yet, fascinating instrument was fitting.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Dorit Chrysler on her 100 years of Theremin compilation and with thereminist and composer Carolina Eyeck. We’ll start with a brief history of the theremin and with Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore.

The Theremin is an instrument with two antennas that are used to control pitch and volume, using radio waves, by reacting to the position of the player’s hand. The invention of the Theremin by Leon (Lev) Theremin took place in Russia during Lenin’s revolution.

We combine our conversations with thereminists and composers Caroline Eyck and Dorit Chrysler to give you the ultimate Theremin filled episode.

Tune into WYXR 91.7 FM every Monday at 4 PM central time!

Two Turntables and a Mic: Evolution of Record Player and Rise of the DJ

Welcome to Sonosphere. Here we feature our second show live on WYXR. We couldn’t be more excited for today’s show. Last week, we featured an interview with abstract turntablist Maria Chavez and vocalist Christina Carter. Today, we will continue our journey exploring the record player. You will hear some music from Cut Chemist, Handel, Lee Scratch Perry, Cab Callaway, Grandmaster Flash and others during the next hour. We will highlight the rise of the radio disc jockey and sampling.

Thanks to WYXR! Check out the newest station in Memphis.

The Great Flood of 1927 Sonosphere

Welcome to Sonosphere the podcast that explores the sounds all around us in art and music movements through history. Sonosphere is now on WYXR 91.7 FM in Memphis, TN every Monday from 4-5pm. Today’s episode is a harrowing tale of a natural disaster that ravaged much of middle America, especially the South.In this episode we will discuss the formation of the Mississippi River, the events that led to the flood, the red cross’ response and how they used the media to shape public opinion, as well as  Blues songs that helped inform the public about the human turmoil that was a direct result of the flood. Listen in as we hear from Christopher Morris, Scotti Parish and David Evans about this extraordinary event. Learn more at sonospherepodcast.com @sonospod
  1. The Great Flood of 1927
  2. Underscore: Steven R. Smith
  3. Model Zero Live on WYXR 91.7FM
  4. Black Swan Records
  5. Underscore: Christian Fennesz

Calling Crosstown: A Conversation with Maria Chavez & Christina Carter

The Great Flood of 1927 Sonosphere

Welcome to Sonosphere the podcast that explores the sounds all around us in art and music movements through history. Sonosphere is now on WYXR 91.7 FM in Memphis, TN every Monday from 4-5pm. Today’s episode is a harrowing tale of a natural disaster that ravaged much of middle America, especially the South.In this episode we will discuss the formation of the Mississippi River, the events that led to the flood, the red cross’ response and how they used the media to shape public opinion, as well as  Blues songs that helped inform the public about the human turmoil that was a direct result of the flood. Listen in as we hear from Christopher Morris, Scotti Parish and David Evans about this extraordinary event. Learn more at sonospherepodcast.com @sonospod
  1. The Great Flood of 1927
  2. Underscore: Steven R. Smith
  3. Model Zero Live on WYXR 91.7FM
  4. Black Swan Records
  5. Underscore: Christian Fennesz

Sheltering in Place with Analog Tara and Carolina Eyck

Welcome to Sonosphere. On this special episode we catch up with a couple artists we’ve featured on our podcast to see how they’ve been faring in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we hear from producer and electronic composer Tara Rodgers, aka Analog Tara. Tara performed here in Memphis for our Sound Observation series a couple years ago in partnership with Crossotown Arts. Then we’ll hear from theremin master, musician and composer Carolina Eyck. Carolina Eyck is working on a project in Berlin and Tara catches up on some of her live stream shows, new music coming soon and what she’s been reading in this time of social distancing. I hope you have been safe and well. And if you’d like to share some stories or music with us email us at sonospherepodcast@gmail.com

sonosphere · Shelter in Place with Analog Tara and Carolina Eyck

The music you hear from Tara Rodgers is her Fundamentals album that can be found here and Carolina Eyck’s music is from her album Elegies for Theremin and Voice and can be found here.

Our past episode featuring playlist by analogtara is here and the interview with Carolina can be found here.

Thanks for listening.

Citizen of Tomorrow on Sonosphere Radio

Welcome to Sonosphere Radio – thanks for tuning in. Today’s feature is a curation of songs by Citizen of Tomorrow. Check it out!

 

Artists featured on this show:

  • Asylum Party
  • Vadaat Chagrin
  • Deerhunter
  • Outside Source
  • Hedgehog
  • Sun Airways
  • A Winged Victory for the Sullen
  • M83
  • Broadcast
  • Psychic TV
  • The Books
  • Black Marble
  • Optic Sink
  • IKO

Underscore: Dorit Chrysler and 100 Years of Theremin

In this episode of Sonosphere we highlight master theremin player and curator of the Theremin 100 compilation celebrating 100 years of theremin, Dorit Chrysler. 

Chrysler says theTheremin 100.jpg “tracks were chosen to highlight versatility in style, musicality, technique and innovation.” The album was released on Feb. 8th and part of the 100th birthday celebration of the Theremin and the release of Theremin 100, Dorit Chrysler and The New York Theremin Society curate a series of events that will take place in various countries throughout 2020. 

We’ll hear more about these events and about how Chrysler found the magic of the theremin, her influences in music, and how she is working to integrate the theremin and other lesser known analog and electronic instruments and techniques into music education today.

theremin events.jpg

Join us!

 

Indian Classical Music; Its Evolution and Influence on Music Today

This month on Sonosphere we hear from Ken Zuckerman, co-founder of the Ali Akbar College in Basel, Switzerland and sarod aficionado.  Peter Lavezzoli, author, percussionist and vocalist also joins us as we discuss how Indian Classical Music has influenced modern rock, pop and ambient music today.

Ali_Akbar_Khan_2014_stampsheet_of_India_cr.jpgA significant figure in North Indian Classical Music is musician, composer and teacher Ali Akbar Khan.

With the opening of his Ali Akbar College in San Rafael California in 1967 Khan opened up an extraordinary interest from Western students and more mainstream musicians like George Harrison of the Beatles, Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead, and cellist and avant-garde dance music composer, Arthur Russell. Kahn has taught over 10,000 students.Ali_Akbar_College_of_Music,_San_Rafael_2

While we only scratch the surface of Indian Classical Music, you’ll find how one man in particular took America and popular music by storm through his teachings that span across the world and across musical genres.

Enjoy this month’s episode on Indian Classical Music.

 

Smiling Wildly: Andrew Earles, Once WEVL Host and Long-time Music Journalist Shares Some Tunes

Welcome to Sonosphere Radio. This month’s host is Andrew Earles.

Andrew Earles has been a music/cultural critic, journalist & biographer since 1999 and has authored three books as well as writing and editing work in 14 other multi-author titles. He has contributed writing in both a staff and freelance capacity to over 55 online and print outlets since 1999, including Spin, Pitchfork, Vice/Noisey, The Onion, Decibel, The Washington City Paper, Numero Group, Magnet Magazine and many others.

Andrew was also one half of Earles and Jensen Present… comedy duo, whose Matador Records releases can be sampled on Spotify. He is currently working on making a few things happen.

Enjoy Andrew Earles mix below.

Tracks:

  1. Mouthus – Your Far Church
  2. The Dead C – World
  3. Labradford – Pico
  4. Bardo Pond – Tommy Gun Angel
  5. Sun City Girls – Omani Red Light
  6. Bowery Electric – Slow Thrills
  7. Village of Savoonga – One More Dark Love Poem
  8. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 – Empty Cup
  9. Jessamine – Say What You Can

Underscore: Ami Dang

Ami-DangWelcome to this episode of Sonosphere where we underscore  Ami Dang, South Asian-American vocalist, sitarist, composer and producer from Baltimore Maryland.

I sat down with Ami in a cafe in Baltimore. We discussed how her cultural heritage rooted in the Sikh religion informs and influences her work today, and how she approaches the sitar while utilizing modern noise, ambient, and electronic sounds in her music. partedplains_amidang

We also discuss the making of her latest album Parted Plains, which came out earlier this year on Leaving Records. She spoke of how ancient folklore from the east is filtered through the west, and what it’s like to be an American in India and Indian in America. Identity and culture are highlighted in her latest effort. Check out Parted Plains here and take a listen to our conversation below. Enjoy.

Underscore: David T. Little

How has information shaped our lives? Are we really privy to all the knowledge available? David T. Little’s new album, AGENCY, seeks to investigate these questions.

On this episode we highlight composer David T. Little. The composer has a background that is as eclectic as his new album, AGENCY.  By combining all of  these influences David is ushering in a new age of opera. Sonosphere enjoyed a phone call with David as we talked about AGENCY as well as his path to this point in his illustrious career.  

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David T. Little + ACME with Third Coast Percussion
AGENCY
New Amsterdam Records
11 October 2019

David T. Little’s AGENCY features the world premiere recording of the work for string quartet and electronics, which The New York Times calls “forthright, visceral, bloody, with the intimacy and polish of a classical chamber ensemble but bulging with the loud, reverberant sweatiness of rock.” Performed by “contemporary music dynamos” (NPR) American Contemporary Music Ensemble—with special guests, the Grammy-winning Third Coast PercussionAndrew McKenna Lee (The Knells), and Julian DayAGENCY is a journey into the nature of truth, rooted in the tension between ancient faith-based cultures and modern information-based societies. Using the language and tactics of espionage, AGENCY is riddled with secret messages, ciphers, and redactions. Illuminating our need to find truth, but suggesting that the truth might be.

The Roots of Disquiet – Notes on the Music from David T. Little:

Are we free agents in this world, controlling and deciding our own paths, or are we unknowingly influenced and manipulated by powerful external forces? Is the truth about this ever really knowable?

AGENCY poses these questions and examines their meaning through contrasts. It investigates the ideological rift between the Aboriginal holy site Uluru in central Australia, and Pine Gap, a massive American spy center of top-secret function, which sits just five hours to the north; the tension between ancient faith-based indigenous cultures and modern information-based societies made manifest.

Both Uluru and Pine Gap are cloaked in mystery. AGENCY is likewise riddled with secrets: ciphers and redactions in the musical score encrypt texts, map coordinates, and philosophical quotations. The result illuminates our need to find truth, but suggests that the truth might be unknowable. We may find only conjecture or faith.

AGENCY takes a more detached approach than its explicitly violent companion, Haunt of Last Nightfall (NWAM054). The violence of Haunt is chaotic and direct: it mines the history of the 1981 massacre at El Mozote, El Salvador for evidence of American complicity. The violence of AGENCY is a nefarious secret.

The questions asked by this pair of pieces once seemed speculative. However, as immigration from Central America takes center stage in the national debate, a work like Haunt suggests a U.S.-American cause to its dramatic 40-year rise. Similarly, a work about the impossibility of knowing the truth may have seemed odd in 2013, when AGENCY was written. But in the wake of “fake news,” the rise of deep fakes, and Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election, it acquires political salience.

Together, AGENCY and Haunt of Last Nightfall present a portrait of the disquiet pervading contemporary American culture, exposing damaged roots. It is my hope these works may begin conversations within the arts world that branch beyond it.

ABOUT DAVID T. LITTLE
David T. Little is “one of the most imaginative young composers” on the scene (The New Yorker), with “a knack for overturning musical conventions” (The New York Times). His operas Dog Days, JFK, and Vinkensport (librettos by Royce Vavrek), and Soldier Songs have been widely acclaimed and performed around the globe, “prov[ing] beyond any doubt that opera has both a relevant present and a bright future” (The New York Times).

Little has been commissioned by the world’s most prestigious institutions and performers, including recent projects for The Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater new works program, The Kennedy Center, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, London Sinfonietta, International Contemporary Ensemble, The Crossing, Eighth Blackbird, Kronos Quartet, and Beth Morrison Projects. His music has been presented by Carnegie Hall, Park Avenue Armory, Holland Festival, BAM Next Wave, LA Opera, Opéra de Montréal, and the LA Philharmonic.

From 2014–2017, Little was Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group. He has previously served as Executive Director of the MATA Festival, and currently chairs the composition department at Mannes—The New School. The founding artistic director of the ensemble Newspeak, his music can be heard on New Amsterdam, Innova, Sono Luminus, and National Sawdust Tracks labels. He is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

ABOUT ACME
In a little more than a decade, led by cellist and artistic director Clarice Jensen, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) has risen to the highest ranks of American new music through a mix of meticulous musicianship, artistic vision, engaging collaborations, and unwavering standards in every regard. The membership of the amorphous collective includes some of the brightest young stars in the field. NPR calls them “contemporary music dynamos,” and Strings reports, “ACME’s absorbing playing pulsed with warm energy. . . Shared glances and inhales triggered transitions in a flow so seamless it seemed learned in a Jedi temple.” ACME was honored by ASCAP during its 10th anniversary season in 2015 for the “virtuosity, passion, and commitment with which it performs and champions American composers.”

The ensemble has performed at leading international venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, BAM, The Kennedy Center, Washington Performing Arts, UCLA’s Royce Hall, Stanford Live, Chicago’s Millennium Park, Duke Performances, The Satellite in Los Angeles, Triple Door in Seattle, Melbourne Recital Hall and Sydney Opera House in Australia, and at festivals including the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Poland, All Tomorrow’s Parties in England, Auckland Arts Festival in New Zealand, Summer Nostos Festival in Greece, Boston Calling, and Big Ears in Knoxville, TN.

World premieres given by ACME include Ingram Marshall’s Psalmbook, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Drone Mass (commissioned by ACME in 2015; recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in 2019), Caroline Shaw’s Ritornello, Phil Kline’s Out Cold, William Brittelle’s Loving the Chambered Nautilus, Timo Andres’ Senior and Thrive on Routine, Caleb Burhans’ Jahrzeit, and many more. In 2016 at The Kitchen, ACME premiered Clarice Jensen’s transcription of Julius Eastman’s The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc for ten cellos, the score of which had been lost since the premiere in 1981. Jensen transcribed a recording of the work to recreate the score.

ACME’s recordings appear on the Deutsche Grammophon, Sono Luminus, New World, Butterscotch, and New Amsterdam labels. www.acmemusic.org

ABOUT THIRD COAST PERCUSSION
Third Coast Percussion is a Grammy Award-winning Chicago-based percussion quartet. For fifteen years, the ensemble has created exciting and unexpected performances that constantly redefine the classical music experience. The ensemble has been praised for “commandingly elegant” (New York Times) performances, the “rare power” (Washington Post) of their recordings, and “an inspirational sense of fun and curiosity” (Minnesota Star-Tribune). Third Coast Percussion maintains a busy tour schedule, with past performances in 33 of the 50 states plus international tour dates on 4 continents. Third Coast Percussion has commissioned and premiered over 60 new works by composers including Philip Glass, Augusta Read Thomas, David T. Little and Devonté Hynes.

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Underscore: Carolina Eyck

On this episode we talk with Carolina Eyck, one of the world’s foremost thereminist, about growing up with classical music and how she knew the Theremin would be her thing.

Eyck releases her third LP for Butterscotch Records, Elegies for Theremin & Voice, on September 27, 2019. Elegies is released in the centennial year of the invention of the theremin – an instrument played without physical contact – and was created over the course of two years at producer Allen Farmelo’s studio in upstate New York.

Ten pieces form a haunting work reflecting sadness and loss, anger and depression. Eyck shares with Sonosphere the process of composing the record. She reminds us it’s okay to feel it all, necessary even, to properly remember and love those we miss.

In connection with the new album, Eyck will tour the U.S. from September 29 through November 9, 2019 and perform with the Albany Symphony and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. U.S. tour dates below.

Elegies for Theremin & Voice – Release concerts

Sept 29 – Concord, NH – Capitol Center for the Arts

Oct 16 – Chicago, IL – Constellation

Oct 20 – Los Angeles, CA – Civic Center Studios presented by Equal Sound

Oct 25 – Brooklyn, NY – National Sawdust

Nov 1 – Brattleboro, VT – Epsilon Spires Sanctuary

Nov 6 – Syracuse, NY – Syracuse University

 

Orchestral Performances – Dalit Warshaw’s Theremin Concerto Sirens

Oct 4 – Boston, MA with Boston Modern Orchestra Project

Nov 9 – Albany, NY with Albany Symphony

 

Workshops and Lessons

Oct 19 – Los Angeles, CA – Workshop

Oct 27 – New York, NY – Workshop

Find opportunities for lessons alongside Carolina’s tour cities here.

About the Sarod, the Popular Hindustani Instrument

This episode of Sonosphere features the North Indian instrument, the sarod. One of the most popular instruments in Hindustani music, the sarod’s 20th century master was Indian composer, teacher and musician, Ali Akbar Khan.

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Ali Akbar Khan

440px-Sarod_001We speak with contemporary sarod virtuoso, Ken Zuckerman about mastering the demanding instrument and how he and Khan brought various innovations and inventions to the sound.

Zuckerman  has been called “…one of the world’s most eclectic masters of improvisation.” He completed thirty-seven years of training under the rigorous discipline of India’s legendary sarod master Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, up to the maestro’s passing in June 2009. He also performed with Maestro Khan in numerous concerts in Europe, India, and the United States.

We will hear more from Zuckerman in upcoming episodes on Indian Classical Music. Stay tuned!

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Underscore: Composer Alex Weston

Welcome to Sonosphere’s Underscore series where we highlight composers, artists, creators, and more. This episode we highlight Alex Weston,  a New York-based composer. 

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After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a composition degree, he then moved to New York. We’ll discuss his time working as music assistant to composer Philip Glass, helping Glass with various film and concert pieces, while also pursuing his own writing. Weston’s music showcases his wide-ranging influences, combining classical structures along with more modern harmonic language, and electronics.

Weston’s music has also been featured on “The Affair” (Showtime), the Ken Burns-produced documentary “The Emperor of All Maladies” (PBS), and various projects for NBC, Netflix and others. His film scores have premiered at festivals around the world including Sundance, and Slamdance.

He’s had concert works commissioned by the Lyrica Chamber Music Ensemble, the Utah Wind Symphony, MADArt Creative, Ballet in the City, and more, including a recent performance at the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts.

farewell artThis month he released his score for the Lulu Wang film The Farewell. On this episode we talk with him about his process for The Farewell and his approach to music in film versus his approach to commissioned works for live dance and others. Enjoy this month’s Underscore.

 

A Mix from Memphis Concrete Founder Robert Traxler

Welcome to Sonosphere radio, today we welcome Robert Traxler, founder of the Memphis Concrete experimental music festival happening this month in Memphis – June 29th and 30th. In its third year, the Memphis Concrete music festival is featuring headliners Matmos, Moor Mother, Rapoon, Mykel Boyd, Tavishi and featuring a live score of the original Tron – all right here in Memphis at Crosstown Arts.

Get your tickets today!

60317265_2324957160898157_8743214651875000320_oRobert is also an electronic music composer working with analog synths and he performs about town.

We’re happy to feature Robert’s mix on today’s Sonosphere Radio.

Track List:

Louis and Bebe Barron – “Main Title” [Forbidden Planet]
Pierre Schaeffer – “Étude Pathétique (Study in Pathos)””
Halim El-Dabh – “Alcibaldis’ Monologue to Socrates”
Matmos – “Thermoplastic Riot Shield”
Zoviet France – “First Vigil”
Bülent Arel – “Postlude from ‘Music for a Sacred Service'”
Éliane Radigue – “Backward 76”
Linda Heck – “Right”
Ihcilon – “Frau im Mond Fragment Three”
Belly Full of Stars – “My God, It’s Full of Ice”
Daphne Oram – “Osram & Rank – Pulse Persephone Experiment”
Jacques Lejeune – “Apparition of the Disguised Queen”
Tavishi – “Lobhe Paap, Paape Mrityu”
Noiserpuss – “Minimum Maximum”
Vladimir Ussachevsky – “Sketch 2” [Two Sketches for a Computer Piece]
Else Marie Pade – “Prolog i Himlen” [Faust Suite]
Max Eilbacher – “For Club III”
Alice Shields – “Study for Voice and Tape”

Nadah El Shazly

Welcome to Sonosphere! The first artist we present in our 2019 Sound Observation series is Nadah El Shazly, Egyptian composer, musician and producer. She will be performing at Crosstown Arts’ Green Room on May 31st as a part of her first tour in the U.S. We are so excited to have her in Memphis. Artist talk at 7 pm, performance at 8 pm.

Sonosphere spoke briefly with Nadah prior to her show. She talks about collaborating in the Cairo music scene, her debut album and her experiences on her first U.S. tour.

Thanks for listening.

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Drones: A Brief History of Sustained Tones in Music

In this month’s episode of Sonosphere, we focus on the use of drone sounds in music. There is a lot to cover with Drone music, often known as a part of the genre of Minimalism and modern ambient. 

JoannaDemers_Drone_HeaderSonosphere caught up with Joanna Demers, author of Listening Through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music, Drone and Apocalypse, and others. 

We will focus on the drone itself, what is drone music, and the common drone instruments as a continuation of the Birth of Modern Music series on avant-garde, classical music and minimalism.

This episode begins with the evolution of the drone sound as a musical style and aesthetic used in many parts of the world. Join us!

Sound Observations: Nicole Mitchell Performs in Memphis

Sonosphere’s last Sound Observation series for 2018 ended on a high note. We welcomed Nicole Mitchell to perform flute with electronics.

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It was a beautiful show preceded by a panel talk on Afrofuturism that we’ve posted as the first part of this Sound Observations.

The discussion informed this improv performance keeping the works of afrofuturist writers and musicians at top of mind.

Thanks for listening!

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Nicole Mitchell talks with James ‘IMMAKEMADBEATS’ Dukes.

Sound Observations on Afrofuturism: Building Communities

We are ending 2018 on a very inspiring note. We hosted our final Sound Observation series by inviting Chicago-based composer Nicole Mitchell to Memphis.

In this episode, we present Afrofuturism: Building Communities, a panel that explored beyond the concept of Afrofuturism. Memphis based Publisher and Author Sheree Renee Thomas led the discussion featuring Nicole Mitchell, and a few Memphians, including Producer/Performer and CEO of James Dukes aka “IMAKEMADBEATS,” Author/ Publisher Troy Wiggins, and Emcee, Teacher, and Author Danian Jerry.

IMG_7139They went beyond explaining afrofuturism and talked about how afrofuturism exists as much in the present as in the past and future. They also discussed how it can be used as a tool to help the community and build worlds that fit a black narrative.

Stay tuned to the next episode featuring Nicole Mitchell’s performance at Crosstown Arts.

Thank you for a wonderful year. Sit back and enjoy this fulfilling conversation. 

Unapologetic: A Conversation at Dirty Socks Studios

This episode Sonosphere visits Dirty Socks Studios, which is the base camp for Unapologetic. The studio is a sanctuary for those who dare to commit to their craft. The theme is dedication to yourself and your mission. unapologeticV5-copy-300x295

Unapologetic is a collective that looks to push Memphis forward. The collective is a cast of characters that are as odd as their aliases. Lead by IMAKEMADBEATS, Unapologetic has put the city on notice. Memphis has the reputation that you have to leave to make it in most industries especially music. Non-Memphians tend to capitalize on the “Memphis Sound,”

Unapologetic is changing that notion. This starts in Dirty Socks Studios where we will pick up our conversation.

okkyung lee

Korean cellist, composer, and improviser, Okkyung Lee talks with Sonosphere about her time at this year’s Big Ears festival in Knoxville, TN, working with Evan Parker, learning to love the cello, and what’s in store for her this year.

 

 

Join us!

 

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Okkyung Lee performing at Big Ears Knoxville 2018

Remix Memphis: The Sounds around the City

This episode Sonosphere dives into Remix Memphis with Alex Greene and Luis Seixas, two Memphis musicians that make the duo The E.G.G.G.

Remix Memphis grew out of a partnership with the Urban Arts Commission and the city of Memphis’ 3.0 comprehensive planning initiative that worked to solicit participation from community leaders, residents and planners to inform future land use and neighborhood plans for the city.

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Alex Greene demonstrating the sounds of Memphis at the Carpenter Art Garden.

Art was an important piece. As a musician Alex was interested in the sounds of the city. He talks with us about the process and how The E.G.G.G. and other local musicians are using the field recordings from Remix Memphis.

Enjoy the episode and if your interested in learning more about the recordings email: remix.memphis@gmail.com

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The E.G.G.G. performing at the Cove in May 2018

Sound Observations with Maria Chavez & Christina Carter

In this month’s episode we highlight Sonosphere’s Sound Observations series. Sound Observations is a quarterly performance and lecture series featuring experimental artists from around the nation.

We were honored to host turntablist and DJ Maria Chavez, and vocalist and musician  Christina Carter of The Charalambides on May 11, 2018.

Maria and Christina’s site specific works took place in the atrium of the Crosstown Concourse building, an old Sears Roebuck building retrofitted for art galleries, residential and commercial spaces. The result is echoing vocals and scratchy, vinyl sounds that swirl up a red staircase to the entrance of the stage.

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Enjoy this Sound Observations performance in this month’s episode below.

 

To hear about Maria’s performance in Marfa, TX a few years ago, tune into an earlier episode on the Marfa Myths festival! 

 

Kai Riedl: Moogfest Continued…

“….the synthesis of music, art and technology.”

Moogfest continued… brings you a brief interview with Kai Riedl, Operations Director at Moogfest. He says this festival seeks to bring new forms of creativity, form communities around art and technology, and create spaces for artists of all inclinations, genres, subcultures and movements.

Although it seems timely to showcase female and non-binary artists this year, according to Kai, Moogfest has had a history of being an inclusive festival.

Check out the interview below!

 

Tracks in the episode:

Smerz – Worth It

Caterina Barbieri – Information Needed to Create

Mouse on Mars – Dimensional People I

Jon Hopkins – Singularity

Michael Stipe – Everything’s Coming Undone

And don’t miss the past episodes we posted on this year’s Moogfest participants Tess Roby and Delta Sound Labs.

 

Vorticity: Delta Sound Labs at MoogFest

Sonosphere ventured out to North Carolina for MoogFest this year and we caught up with Memphis-based Delta Sound Labs.

Their audiovisual installation called Vorticity was a collaboration between Delta Sound Labs + Nokia Bell Labs at American Underground in Durham, NC. This interactive, data-art set brought science and art together. Of the free programming, this fun, collaborative piece showcased what Delta Sound Labs can create with innovative, high-speed Schlieren imaging equipment and two sonified datasets. Colorful bubbles sliding around the screen were generated and distorted with every new person walking through the scene.

“The sets are converted to analog control voltage using Delta Sound Labs’ Control module and then mapped to determine the timbral structure of two voltage controlled oscillators through a form of distortion synthesis called wavefolding. Each data set forms two short sections, which are repeated continuously,” as explained by the guys themselves. Check out their Moogfest experience on their blog.

 

video from deltasoundlabs.com

For more on our trip to MoogFest – check out our podcast interview with Tess Roby!

 

Tess Roby at Moog Fest 2018

Hi guys, this month we highlight our conversation with Tess Roby from our Moog Fest visit back in May this year. She recently released her debut album Beacon on Italians Do It Better.

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Hailing from Montreal, Tess Roby brings dreamy synths and strong vocals on melodic tracks like “Given Signs” and “Catalyst.” She talks to us about her inspiration for Beacon, how her photography inspires songwriting and how growing up in a musical family lead her to collaborating with her brother on her debut.

Enjoy!

Memphis Concrete: Experimental Electronic Music Festival

This week’s Press Play features On Trianges – Sound in Geometry Series Volume 1 the playlist affiliated with this year’s Memphis Concrète experimental electronic music festival. It will be held at Crosstown Arts and will feature new musicians from the Memphis region and across the country.

This recording of electronic music presents the works of local and regional artists that will be featured at the festival.

Enjoy!

 

Get your tickets to the festival, June 22-24 in Memphis, TN: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/memphis-concrete-2018-tickets-45151261639?aff=efbeventtix

Rachel Grimes

Sonosphere spoke with Rachel Grimes about her score for the film The Doctor from India. Rachel talks about the composition and the ways this film has inspired her to pay closer attention to the way she lives her own life. The interview took place via telephone on April 4th, 2018 and Rachel talks about the importance of this date. Enjoy!

An ethereal and meditative soundtrack album from pianist and composer Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s, King’s Daughters & Sons), The Doctor from India features piano, Scott Moore on violin, Jacob Duncan on saxophone, interspersed with harp, strings, and ambient sound design. Created for a new documentary film by Jeremy Frindel, this score provides a thematically unified soundscape to support the inspiring story of Dr. Vasant Lad, a holistic health pioneer whose approach centers around the ancient practice of Ayurveda. The immersive, contemplative track “Moving Into Night” is streaming now on Bandcamp, and you can also pre-order the album.

The film had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 2, 2018. Zeitgeist Films, in association with Kino Lorber, will be screening theatrically throughout the spring alongside a VOD release. The film tells fascinating story of one man’s mission to bring the ancient healthcare system of wellness called Ayurveda from India to the West in the late 1970s. In this meditative, immersive portrait, with interviewees including Ayurvedic practitioner Deepak Chopra, Frindel documents the life and work of Dr. Vasant Lad who, fulfilling his destiny as foretold by his family guru became a holistic health pioneer, helping to bring Ayurveda, which was almost unknown when he first arrived in the west, to become one of the most prominent alternative health systems in the world today. Check out the film site and watch the trailer.

Heralded as “one of American independent music’s few truly inspired technicians” by WIRE magazine, Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky. Widely known for her role in the groundbreaking chamber ensemble Rachel’s, (six albums on Quarterstick/Touch and Go), she has since toured worldwide as a solo pianist, and as a collaborator with various artists.

Her work has been performed by ensembles such as the Louisville Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, A Far Cry, Longleash, Portland Cello Project, Amsterdam Sinfonietta Trio, Dublin Guitar Quartet, Borusan Quartet and Önder sisters. Releases include Through the Sparkle (with astrïd on Gizeh Records 2017), The Clearing (Temporary Residence Ltd. 2015), Book of Leaves, Marion County 1938, and Compound Leaves. Collaborators include Matthew Nolan, Erik Friedlander, Loscil, SITI Company, Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg, Jacob Duncan, Scott Moore, astrid, Chris Wells, and Julia Kent with the artist Peter Liversidge. She is also a member of Louisville band King’s Daughters & Sons (Chemikal Underground). She scores for film and multimedia installations (Donna Lawrence Productions) and has licensed music to numerous film and TV works internationally.

Tracks (The Doctor from India):

The Doctor Arrives

The Flowering of Arurveda

Sacred Knowledge

The Art of Listening

Quackery

I Do What I Love

 

5 Happenings at Moogfest 2018

 

Moogfest is almost here! Moogfest is an annual multi-day festival that is located at the intersection of music, technology, art and human interaction in “The Research Triangle.” Started in 2004 in NYC the festival is now in its 12th year. Moving from NYC, to Asheville, then Durham Moogfest curates and hosts those at the forefront of music, art, and the science of sound. Moogfest is May 17-20 spread through venues in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

“By day, Moogfest is a platform for conversation and experimentation, attracting creative and tech enthusiasts for four days of participatory programming in Durham, North Carolina. By night, Moogfest presents cutting-edge performances by early pioneers in electronic music, contemporary pop innovators, and avant-garde experimentalists in venues throughout the city.

Moogfest is a tribute to analog synthesizer pioneer Dr. Robert Moog and the profound influence his inventions have had on how we hear the world over the last 60 years. The exchange between engineer and musician that he fostered is celebrated with a unique festival format where the creative process is understood as collaboration among many people, across time and space, in commerce and culture.”

Here are 5 things not to miss:

Chelsea Manning

National security expert Chelsea Manning’s keynote will explore how tools and enhancements in technology will be influencing our future and are/will tamper with our private life, our society and explore what we think are acceptable or unreasonable evolutions.

With Jennifer’s work with IBM Watson, her Keynote will come from both a philosophical and practical standpoint. While Chelsea’s Keynote is focused on disruption within technology, and how that is a tool for destruction and creativity.

Sonic Robots

Moritz Simon Geist aka Sonic Robots is a performer, musicologist, and robotics engineer. His robotic instruments and performances have been shown in numerous European festivals and exhibitions throughout the last year. His whole concept revolves around Robotic Electronic Music (R.E.M). He uses futuristic DIY mechanic instruments and small robots to create robotic techno and will be performing on stage with Mouse on Mars in the A3 Spatial Sound environment within The Armory. Later this year he’s debuting his first album, the first techno record recorded entirely with robots produced by Mouse On Mars. He teaches on the progression of technology and society at the NYU Berlin and will be presenting various workshops at Moogfest.

Check out a sampler here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVSP4XCOu18

Girls Who Code Engineer Scholars

Moogfest has partnered with Girls Who Code for an Engineer Scholarship giving 4 young female students the opportunity to build their own Subharmonicon synthesizer at this year’s festival. Read about it on FACT Mag. This program is a continuation of Moogfest’s dedication to STEAM, an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.

ALEX ZHANG HUNGTAI

Beyond the personal consciousness, there is the familial consciousness, above the familial there is the cultural, above the cultural, the historical, and so on ascending into the vast cosmical or spiritual consciousness. The conception of Divine Weight derives from Zhang’s “failed” attempts of saxophone compositions and recordings accumulated over the last 3 years, from there it became the actual stem tracks that were heavily digitally disfigured until it no longer resembled the sound of saxophones. Like dreams, visions often come to us without us having the capability to measure or understand fully what they mean. Similar to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Psychomagic, dreams and visions take on the roles of witnesses inside the uncharted labyrinth of the personal subconscious. To witness, is to believe. To believe, is to project a certain reality onto the external world. The projection then, has nothing to do with reality. Perhaps it’s where dreams go, after it dies.

Nicole Mitchell  

This jazz enthusiast and avant-garde artist who’s part of the association of Advancement of Creative Musicians will be performing a 4 hour durational on her flute immersed with a plethora of moog synths. This is a completely different genre for her, and promises to be extraordinary.

Check out the 2018 SCHEDULE

Buy your tickets HERE.

See you there!

Aukai

We spoke with Aukai about his upcoming release Branches of the Sun (March 9). Aukai is Markus Sieber — who spends time in Tulum, Mexico and Germany, in addition to Colorado — recorded the ambient-acoustic album in a small cabin high up in the mountains near the Old Spanish Trail in Colorado last winter, free of any outside human or technological influences.
The new record is darker and more layered than the last one — less thematic, more atmospheric this time– but it is richly produced with pieces that juxtapose the cold surroundings of their creation with a warmth of sound and spirit. Guests include Nils Frahm collaborator Anne Müller on cello, Berlin composer Alex Nickmann on synths, beats and mellotron, and was produced by Martyn Heyne (7K!, Dustin O’Halloran, etc).
Featured Tracks:
“Branches of the Sun”
“Iztac”
“Turning Days”
“Distracted by Clouds”
Colorado

Press Play: A N Y W A V E

Welcome to Press Play, the monthly playlist curated by labels and artists from around the world. Today Sonosphere highlights the French label, A N Y W A V E. We had the pleasure to correspond with Aurel Delamour, artist and co-creator of the label.

Check out the interview, mixtape and track list below. Subscribe to us at SoundCloud, itunes, and GooglePlay.

 

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Tell me about Anywave, how did it begin?

I created the label with my friend Stephanie 15 years ago – mainly because we wanted to release our own work. But we quickly took a break… that lasted over 10 years! As for the name, it was her idea, IIRC she thought about no wave and I was very much into new wave, so that’s what “Anywave” is supposed to mean: the synthesis of different types of wave music – hopefully it’s still relevant, now that we’ve been releasing music for real.

How do you find and work with your artists? 

We dig through Internet every day with my buddies in the label. But we also receive many submissions from artists.

It has happened many times that we worked with other labels. Sometimes, because we need extra money to achieve a budget, sometimes just because we want to have a release in common with people we like, like with Lentonia or Montagne Sacrée for instance.

What do you look for in an artist/band? How do you shape or “feel out” the “sound of Anywave”?

“Singularity” is a word I much enjoy to use when I speak about our artists, singularity can take different shapes, I’m fully aware that it’s very difficult to be purely innovative, you always take from what has been done before. For instance, Heather Celeste’s work gathers dark techno codes, it also includes minimal wave, but she doesn’t simply put all this together, she really does something special, with a lot of improvisation, a rather lo-fi production – at least on the material she’s released on Anywave. It’s her personal balance that makes her music unique to our ears. It’s true for most of the artists we’ve produced, they do their stuff in a very particular way.

When we decide to work with a band, we try to include their project into our own story. As we seek total freedom in our artistic choices (no boundaries of style, no strategic plan), we give the artists the same freedom. So we have to find a way to make their project a part of our own without betraying their intentions. Sometimes enthusiasm and mutual love just do the job! But I think the visual work we do might be the cement that makes the label understandable at first.

What is your preferred “genre” or sound to represent on the label? Is it mostly personal taste or does some consumer demand play in?

I don’t know. « Bedroom-pop », or « bedroom-something ». As for A V G V S T, which is my own band, I once wrote “postwave”, and then “pornwave”, though it has nothing really [to do with] porn. My friend Zane O’Brien who rules escc9 and Lux Era found an excellent genre designation: “post-whatever”, I’m a bit upset I couldn’t come up with that myself!

Who was the first Anywave artist/band signed?

A V G V S T, obviously. Then, we really started the current version of Anywave with two Egyptian bands, PanSTARRS and Gast, by the way, the two most opposite sides of our catalogue, one a pure lo-fi post-punk band, and the other an IDM project, sounding a bit like the early Warp Records’ productions.

Who is the newest addition to the label?

Patrick Wiklacz, a French ambient / experimental electronic composer and sound designer, who never released his work on a label before. An album will be be out in April or May.

And Laura Gozlan : we’ve published Physical Self, her exhibition soundtrack. The format of this project is a bit unusual for a music label because it is an artist book by Myriam Barchechat and Laura Gozlan with a download code for the music, a 10 minutes track of abstract darkwave composed by Laura. The book reinterprets her video installation, it is meant to be an adaptation of the original artwork.

Wavecore5Has the label evolved since the beginning? If so, how?

A lot!! We went through v1, v2, v3, and we’re heading to v4. It fits better to our current frame of mind , I guess our scheme wasn’t very clear, and rather clumsy, at the beginning. At some point, I got a bit pissed with mimicry. The fact is we didn’t plan to make things grow, but when you’re releasing 5 to 7 records in one year, I guess you can say you are actually developing the label. So you try to make something that works, and as you have no idea how things work, you look at what other labels do… and then you realise after a while you’ve just been in someone else’s shoes. Still, I’ve got many references, and there are many inspiring labels, but as far as we’re concerned inspiration should stay on an artistic level, we have to find our own way to make things work.

atelier_09_rcd cassetteWho presses your vinyl records/cassettes? How important is physical copies of music? 

We like to work with small factories for vinyls and tapes. We’d like to be able to press the cassettes ourselves in the near future. That’s what we already do with CDs. For us physical copies are important for different reasons: first it gives the project some credibility in the eyes of the audience and of the media (it’s almost impossible to get any review with only a digital release). The second reason is that we love creating objects, touching them. Myriam, our art director, is a great designer, and I do share her concern about giving a physical shape to music, that can add a meaningful dimension to a record – not to mention the aesthetic dimension of course. Hence it’s a real pleasure to go on with physical copies, in particular when it’s handmade limited series.

Streaming services have been great for finding new music. How is it working through bandcamp/soundcloud? Does that drive the business?

It’s been a primary tool for us to get our name out there. Well, we’re not really famous of course, but we have a little audience we can reach through social networks and platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Changes in those platforms have huge consequences on the way we communicate and share music, so it means we might be too dependent on them.

Bad News from CosmosWhat are you excited about for the next year for your label? What do plan for future?

You may have noticed this last year was a rather quiet one. We’ve been focusing on other matters than music production, such as booking a tour for the Ukrainian duet Bad News from Cosmos, or questioning ourselves about the meaning of a label in 2017. By many aspects, a label is more or less comparable to a political party, especially when you rule it with three other persons, you have to make decisions but you also have to listen to what they have to say. I can be a bit authoritarian when I’m discussing our projects, but I’m also full of doubt. This year was a year of doubts, to be honest. Now, we’ve decided to rule Anywave in a different way: we’re gonna travel light. What I’m saying regarding the future is in total contradiction with our next release! Indeed Fléau’s second album is the most ambitious project we’ve ever made (thanks to the help of our friend label Atelier Ciseaux, who co-produced the record): a double vinyl and a collector edition with an artist booklet… But then, we plan to release mostly limited editions, screen printed CDs and tapes. What’s already on track is a split album with Bad News from Cosmos and Heima Matti, Patrick Wiklacz’s album «      » and the sixth volume of the Wavecore series.

Tracklist:

Side A selected by Bad News from Cosmos:
1 Vitamin Wig C – Why A Key Go (Wavecore 3, 2014)
2 Crystal Coast – DSTNT (Wavecore 4, 2015)
3 A V G V S T – The Hill (A Sorry Plain, 2005)
4 Verpackt – (Wavecore 4, 2015)
5 Seahorse Hunter – Disappear (Wavecore 1, 2013)
6 Tainsus – Computer Screen (Wavecore 4, 2015)
7 Jacqueline Sauvage – (Wavecore 2, 2013)
8 Ferdinand Carclash – Donde no Hay Despues (Wavecore 3, 2014)
Side B selected by Aurel:
9 Fléau – IV (intro) (Fléau II, 2018) premiere 
10 Sphyxion – Sphyxion 3 (Sphyxion, 2016)
11 Heather Celeste – Lemon Trade (Modern Death, 2015)
12 Bad News from Cosmos – Someday (Minn Sjo, 2016)
13 Gross Net – Spiralling Down (Wavecore 4, 2015)
14 Mareux – Cold Summer (Wavecore 2, 2013)
15 Patrick Wiklacz – N5 (N, 2018) premiere

Iceberg New Music Collective Visits Memphis

New York City-based composer collective ICEBERG New Music was in residence at Crosstown Arts here in Memphis for two weeks of concerts, workshops, and lectures back in June of 2017. 

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We spoke with composers from the second of the two concerts in the Crosstown Arts series, and attended their workshops and lectures that ranged from a “Sound Scavenger Hunt” to a lecture on “Popular and Classical Music in 1960s America.” Memphis-based contemporary chamber group Blueshift Ensemble collaborated with ICEBERG and performed the collective’s original compositions for the concert series.

I hope you enjoy our talk about Iceberg’s mission, the future of new music, collaboration, blending genre’s and more!

 

 

Special thanks to Iceberg New Music, Jenny Davis and the Blueshift Ensemble, and Justin Thompson and the whole Crosstown Arts Community.

Track listing:

Alex Burtzos – OMAHA (all the things you could be you are you were) for string quartet

Drake Andersen – Photons for flute and clarinet

Yu-Chun Chien – Co-Composition for a cellist

Jonathan Russ – Eat Your Vegetables for solo clarinet

Harry Stafylakis – Unrelent for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion

Making Noise with Ihcilon

We linked up with Memphis electronic artist Ihcilon and asked him a few questions. He was also kind enough to make a playlist for everyone’s enjoyment. Look for him to be playing some shows around town this year.

How long have you been performing as Ihcilon?

The first thing I released was an EP in December 2014. But I had been futzing around with the idea of electronic music since around 1999.

Can you tell our followers how to pronounce Ihcilon phonetically?

To be honest, I really don’t have an official way of pronouncing it that has stuck. I decided on ee-hih-lohn but most people say ih-sih-lon so really either way. When I chose it I never expected anyone to have to pronounce it.

Can you describe your process to making your sounds?

It usually starts with something I hear in regular time: motors, blowers, or sometimes the sound of things hitting together like hammers or wind chimes. I’ll try to recreate it in software and if that doesn’t work I turn to household objects and cheap wind instruments. A lot of it happens by accident. Everything is improvised and recorded in one take. I’ll have a basic road map but fingers will slip or memories will lapse and will yield some sometimes interesting results.

What instruments do you most enjoy working with?

I don’t know if many would agree with this definition, but my favorite instrument at the moment is my phone. I mean, I would love to say that I absolutely love my Buchla or Moog but I don’t own anything like that. There is software on my phone that kind of sound like those things and that’s where the joy is right now.

What inspires you to create?

Personal experiences. Much of the sound you will hear from Ihcilon are more autobiographical than anything. You will hear reinterpreted sounds of medical equipment, internal audio of migraines, sounds from dreams, conversations, shows I have been to… It all kind of mixes together.

Are there any moments as a performer that stand out to you?

Memphis Concréte 2017 was by and large the best thing I had ever been involved in up to that point. It was amazing and unlike anything I had ever seen here.

What can Memphis do better to grow and promote electronic music here?

We’re doing a really good job cultivating a scene here. It’s all still a relatively new idea for this area. I think Memphis is still trying to figure out what to do with music you can’t necessarily dance to. But we have many venues that will let us in and as long as that keeps happening I feel like the scene will grow on its own.

If you were to collaborate with one artist who would it be?

Just one?? Probably Diamanda Galás. Her voice has always been captivating. But I will collaborate with just about anyone.

What do you have planned for 2018?

Memphis Concréte, do a handful of shows, and release at least one album. There’s nothing bigger than that.

Here are the songs featured on the mix:

Cyril The Dancing Bear – Pending Disco

iscDo – The Dust Gets In

Three Voices – Retrospection

False – Operant

All is Almost a Prayer – Stammer

Null – Stammer

Mainsplainer – Ihcilon

Enjoy!!

Photo by Heather Wallace

Birth of Modern Music Part 6: John Cage

 

Cage let chance override musical composition the way it plays upon nature. He focused on the subtleties between sound and silence, the same way they intertwine in existence. Embracing noise as others did before him, including Russolo, Satie, and Varese, Cage was able to transcend the bounds of traditional music composition that would baffle the avant-garde world for decades. In this episode we talk with Laura KuhnJames Pritchett, and Brian Brandt of Mode Records

 

 

Martyn Heyne: Electric Intervals

This month Sonosphere talks with Martyn Heyne, composer, producer and engineer. Martyn has a new album out on November 17th called Electric Intervals on !K7 Records’ new imprint 7K!

We discuss the making of this album, which is his first full length solo work. Martyn has worked in a producer and engineering role with the likes of Nils Frahm, The National, Efterklang, Peter Broderick, and others.

7K002DIGITAL-MH-EI-Artwork_1200px

We also chat about the creating the video of the single “Carry” with FELD, the Berlin based design studio behind the album’s imagery, and the nuisances involved in listening and recording music.

Join us!

Tracks in this episode:

The National – Don’t Swallow the Cap

Martyn Heyne – Curium

Martyn Heyne – Carry

Funkstörung – Test

 

 

 

 

Model Zero

Today we feature a live performance by Model Zero from the WYXR studio in Memphis, TN. Sonosphere interviewed the band after their latest single release, “Little Crystal.” The band performed this song and the b-side “Leather Trap” on our show along with a few other songs from their self-title LP from 2019. We also talked with the guys about the difference between the last album and this new single. Join us!