Evensong is Caleb Burhans’s defining statement of his complex connection to the church — an "emo-classical" epic where sacred meets secular in a pure, dynamic expression of musical influences that range from classical to ambient to post-rock. While the album presents motifs from the Christian church service (book-ended with the opening "Magnificat" and the closing "Nunc Dimittis," recorded with the Trinity Wall Street Choir), it refracts them through the modern lens of new music and the avant garde.
Alarm Will Sound is featured in the secular portion of the album, performing three pieces that we have come to know intimately over many years of performing them with Caleb as one of our founding members.
The versatile Derek Bermel has been widely hailed for his creativity and theatricality. He re-imagines the sounds of indigenous world music, jazz, and rock in his uniquely virtuosic and dynamic compositions. Canzonas Americanas takes listeners on a rhythmic and sonic journey—from the yearning, pulsating choros at a club in Rio di Janeiro to the intricate, colorful xylophone music of a West African village. “Music is a prism through which I see and reflect the world,” says Bermel.
Arrhythmia: “want of rhythm or regularity, specifically of the pulse.”
Great composers of the past century have staked out strong and divergent positions on the proper role of pulse in contemporary music: some arguing that truly innovative music must avoid rhythmic regularity; others convinced that only music built on pulse feels vital and alive. The pieces on this album bind these apparently contradictory claims together. In each piece, a basic pulse is disturbed, either by distortions in the flow of time (like a record player with an unsteady motor) or by juxtaposition with other conflicting pulses (like turn signals flashing at different speeds at a stoplight). We've found this sort of rhythm—where regularity and irregularity meet—to be uniquely engaging: the underlying pulsation catches the ear, while the disturbances keep us alert and guessing. The “want of rhythm or regularity” becomes palpable.
Van Gogh is based on letters Vincent wrote to his brother Theo. Michael Gordon says, “What attracted me so much to these letters was the pain, the rawness, and the brutal honesty. I really found it hard to believe that anyone could tell another person, even his brother, the raw emotions that he experiences—so painful, so lonely, so humiliating.” The impassioned music captures van Gogh's adolescent anxieties, professional challenges, and a kind of transcendence that comes with his eventual institutionalization. Gordon brings a directness and intimacy to van Gogh's story by sharing it entirely through his own private letters, and the immediacy of those words intensifies van Gogh's already staggering story.
Aphex Twin (aka Richard D. James) is among the most imaginative musical minds working today. His electronica isn't intended to be performed live but we set ourselves the goal of reproducing the original tracks on acoustic instruments as faithfully as possible. In the process, we discovered that a different kind of energy emerges from humans playing this complex, often hyperkinetic music made on (and for) machines.
In front of a live audience in New York City's storied Roxy Nightclub, Alarm Will Sound performs Steve Reich's masterpiece Sextet, Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices, and Organ, and Three Genesis Settings (a new collection from The Cave). Captured in Dolby 5.1 surround sound and high-definition video, the DVD + CD set also features an interview with Reich about the music and the performance.
Our debut album features Tehillim and The Desert Music by Steve Reich. In both pieces, Reich sets texts that explore spirituality and humanity: Hebrew psalms of praise in one; the poetry of William Carlos Williams in the other. The Desert Music is heard here in a revised chamber orchestra version that allows its crisp rhythms to emerge.
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Listen through to the end if you're feeling dazed and confused about why this brand new piece sounds familiar. Premiered at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2011.
This is an excerpt of our world premiere performance.
This is our world premiere performance at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2011.
This is our world premiere performance at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2012.
This is our world premiere performance at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2013.
This is our world premiere performance at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2010.