Feeling classy? We’ve got quite the episode in store for you today. First, we’re switching things up by placing our topic—a multi-pronged preamble for today’s album—before the analysis instead of after. As a grand introduction to Chambers by Chilly Gonzales, we properly thank Doug Ferguson of the Music A to Z Podcast for recommending it, we talk a bit about their podcast, a bit about Chilly himself, and for our topic we address our own experiences with classical music over the years and reflect on the nasty habit of classical “avoidance”. At last, once we’re all warmed up, starting approx. 20 mins. in we begin to tackle Chambers, an album of twelve bite-sized neo-Romantic works featuring Chilly at the piano accompanied by Hamberg’s Kaiser Quartett. So sit back, dive in, check out the Music A to Z Podcast (as well as Doug’s last request), and indulge in the vast multiverse that is music and those who love discussing it.
Grab your passport. Today we’re taking a trip through the island of Ushant — that is, Eusa (in Breton) — the inspiration for EUSA, the latest album by Ushant resident and French composer Yann Tiersen. As Crash Chords has never before had the opportunity to sit with a pure piano work, EUSA keeps us on our toes as we discuss Yann Tiersen’s trademark style and the album’s mysterious sequence of introductory “paths”. We chat about imagery, minimalism, what is and isn’t certainty/reality, and then let our hair down with a topic on good ol’ fashioned boredom in a media-rich culture.
Today Matt welcomes composer Joseph Bertolozzi. With a penchant for exploring unorthodox tools, timbres, and sound environments, Joe’s sonic ambitions are taking him to new heights and to new nations. Many may know Joseph for his previous album, Bridge Music, released in 2009 and composed using elements of percussion produced only by New York’s Mid-Hudson Bridge. To build on this project, Joseph’s newest album, Tower Music (or Musique de la Tour) will be composed using percussion sounds made only using the Eiffel Tower. It will be released by Innova Recordings — the label of the American Composers Forum — on April 29th, 2016. Hear Joseph chat about what it takes to record such large-scale projects and the challenges he must face when trying to promote and share them. Also hear him chat about his upbringing, his influences, his writing process, and what it’s like to compose music both with standard instrumentation and to use sounds from structures. Enjoy!
Come witness what many would call the junction point of two repelling magnets (Hip-Hop and Classical) with the newest album by Black Violin, called Stereotypes. Its core members (violinist Kev Marcus and violist Wil B) might argue this point however, as they approach their unique brand of genre fusion as a marriage made in… Florida. Give the album a listen (the duo’s first LP under the Universal Classics label) and then come give us a listen! Or, skip to 1:31:26 for a roundtable discussion on whether Hip-Hip can claim the title of “most versatile.” We’ve got our opinions, let’s hear yours!
This week we wrestle with the latest project by Ben Folds, this time a solo work (as a follow-up to our much earlier review of the same artist, then with the re-formed Ben Folds Five). In his latest album, So There, the famed pianist is working in two new arenas: the chamber ensemble and the orchestra. Join us in an analysis of the first eight tracks, where he supplements his pop stylings with the incredible talents of yMusic—a New York-based ensemble known for their intensive composer collaborations—and then for the final three tracks, each one a movement from Ben Folds’ much-awaited piano concerto (recorded with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra). Afterwards, stick around for a recap of the vinyl resurgence, as discussed in CC: Autographs Ep. #28…. but this time with Jon!
And then the orchestra met the synthesizer… and it was good. Today we feature a special fan-chosen album for our weekly analysis, courtesy of Heather S. (@wildflowerfever). The album is called In Conflict, by the composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, Owen Pallett. Then we take some time to discuss the particulars of an upper echelon rating system. Why are things harder to rate the closer they come to true exceptionalism?
Time for one of our favorite things: another cosmic ballet between traditional composition and pop songwriting. This week we find it in the band Arc Iris, fronted by the highly animated vocalist, Jocie Adams (formerly of the Low Anthem). With the help of her poetic flair, their self-titled debut packs a wallop. Let’s hope we do it justice. Also stick around for an interesting discussion on musical identity and personality, and whether they’re at all linked with staying power.
You might know him from System of a Down. Or perhaps you know him from his solo work. Well now we’re all privileged to know him as… a classical composer? Yup. Serj Tankian wrote a symphony. It’s his first symphony, titled Orca, and you can bet we’re reviewing it! Then afterwards, be sure to catch our little discussion on the cross-pollination of various aesthetics. Can music directly influence our other tastes, like literature, art, décor, or even food?