...as rooted in mystery and experimentation as it is in the collaborative spirit.
Field Recordings, the new multimedia project from the Bang on a Can All-Stars, is as rooted in mystery and experimentation as it is in the collaborative spirit; in the words of composer David Lang, “It’s a kind of ghost story. We asked composers from different parts of the music world to find a recording of something that already exists — a voice, a sound, a faded scrap of melody — and then write a new piece around it.”
In the capable hands of the All-Stars, Field Recordings taps into film, found sound and obscure audio-visual archives, bridging the gap between the seen and the unseen, the present and the absent, the past and the future. Concert performances have featured radical new video projections, several of which appear on the bonus DVD, while the 12-track CD consists of commissioned music by some of the most inquisitive and unconventional composers in any genre, from indie art-rock (Nick Zammuto/The Books, Tyondai Braxton/Battles) to electronica (Mira Calix) to post-classical (Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe) to the art world (Christian Marclay).
For more than a century, recorded sound has permeated every corner of our lives. Bartok and Kodaly took recording devices into the hills of central Europe and changed modern music forever; rock and roll got its lineage from artists revealed to the world by the Lomaxes, Seegers and other intrepid archivists. Hip-hop culture democratized sampling, and helped reshape popular music into a form of musique concrète, mixing the voices and rhythms of the past with the sound of machinery and electronics.
For our own Field Recordings, we asked the composers to go into the field of recorded sound itself — to find something old or record something new, and to respond with their own music, in dialogue with what they found. Using archival audio, found sound and video, Field Recordings builds a bridge between the seen and the unseen, the present and the absent, the past and the future.
The Bang on a Can All-Stars:
Ashley Bathgate - cello
Robert Black - bass
Vicky Chow - piano and keyboards
David Cossin - drums and percussion
Mark Stewart - guitars
Ken Thomson - clarinets
Produced by David Cossin and Rob Friedman
1. Julia Wolfe Reeling (5:49)
2. Florent Ghys An Open Cage (4:08)
3. Michael Gordon Gene Takes a Drink (5:57)
4. Christian Marclay Fade to Slide (7:40)
5. David Lang unused swan (5:20)
6. Tyondai Braxton Casino Trem (7:21)
7. Jóhann Jóhannsson Hz (6:55)
8. Todd Reynolds Seven Sundays (6:40)
9. Steve Reich The Cave of Machpelah (4:39)
10. Bryce Dessner Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld] (5:17)
11. Mira Calix meeting you seemed easy (6:40)
12. Anna Clyne A Wonderful Day (5:02)
Gene Takes a Drink
Camera by Gene
Edit by Bill Morrison
Composed by Michael Gordon
Published by Red Poppy Ltd. (ASCAP)
Special thanks: Laurie Olinder and the gardeners of 9C Community Garden, NYC
Composed, directed and edited by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Filmed by Magnus Helgason
Published by Mute Song (ASCAP)
Filmed at the Elliðarár Power Station, which is the oldest one of its kind in Iceland. Built in 1921, it was in use until 1990, when it was taken out of service. Its dynamos are kept functional, however, and the power station is activated once a year for a few hours to keep the machinery in good condition. The station is in an old building in a beautiful, idyllic spot in the Elliðarár Valley, surrounded by trees and water streams.
Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld]
Composed by Bryce Dessner
Published by Chester Music Ltd.
Charles Olson footage (filmed 1965-66) courtesy of The Poetry Center & American Poetry Archives, San Francisco State University
meeting you seemed easy
Composed by Mira Calix
Filmed at O. R. Tambo International Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Audio recorded between London, Geneva and Milan
Published by Mute Song (PRS)
Real Beauty Turns
Edited by Nick Zammuto
Composed by Nick Zammuto
Published by Zammutosound (ASCAP)