Stream the excerpt here and leave a comment or two! While you're listening, check out our PledgeMusic campaign to find out how you can join us to create an immersive surround-sound experience with the Seattle Symphony and conductor Ludovic Morlot.
Maybe the heat-haze is getting to us, but we've been gathering oceans of new merch and collectibles all summer. We're finally ready to share it with you - take your pick from these all-new Bang on a Can Store exclusives!
Can you believe that we've never had Cantaloupe t-shirts for sale online? We couldn't stand a world where that was the case, so we've designed a whole new line of post-minimal garments featuring our favorite geometric designs: the pervasive green Cantaloupe melon, the Bang on a Can rings in monochrome, and the simantra starburst of Michael Gordon's Timber. And the price is right, too; new summer shirts are on sale for just $10 for a limited time! explore apparel
Every year at the Bang on a Can Marathon, we collect composer autographs: hand-drawn music/art that reflects the personality and immediacy within the artist. The collection is conceptually diverse, with new entries from the 2014 Marathon that include Bryce Dessner, J.G. Thirlwell, Caroline Shaw, Marc Mellits and Meredith Monk. All are worthy additions to any new music collection! explore composer autographs
Back by popular demand, mystery bundles contain a selection of choice Cantaloupe titles from our 13-year history. A hit at the BoaC Marathon, the bundles were sold out after the first hour, and the contents were swapped like trading cards throughout the rest of the day.
We brought them out again for a few days on twitter and all were switfly snatched up again. We're busting them out one more time for just a week, and after that they're gone until the holiday season. grab your mystery bundle fast!
Moses Hacmon, the artist of behind the brilliant blue abstraction on the cover of Michael Gordon's Rushes, has partnered with the Bang on a Can Store to bring you a series of truly unique made-to-order prints on aluminum.
Faces of Water is part art, part science, part spiritual awakening. It's a breathtaking, unique collection of photographic images of water that transforms and advances our understanding of this life-giving element and exposes a layer of reality previously hidden from sight. reserve your piece now
We listen to a lot of music at Cantaloupe HQ. Here's some of the stuff we're into beyond our own label's releases
To kick off our new label profile on Spotify, our office team has started a rolling collaborative playlist to shuffle through while we work. This list will only grow and grow as we all hear new music and reminisce to old favorites, but for now the list already contains Cantaloupe artists doing other projects, as well as some beautiful sounds pretty distant from the established Cantaloupe Zone.
Join us as we get to know each others' tastes. What else might we like? Add a track to our queue while you listen, and we'll give it a spin in our Brooklyn office!
JLA discusses the making of Become Ocean. photo c/o Gabriel Furtado
John Luther Adams on Become Ocean:
If you stop and think about the oceanic dimension of music, there’s this implication of immersion. We came from the ocean, and we’re going back to the ocean, right? We’re made up mostly of water, and life on earth first emerged from the seas. And with the melting of the polar ice caps and the rising sea levels, we may become ocean sooner than we imagine.
Eventually we begin to realize that we’re part of something much larger than ourselves. Become Ocean embraces this idea, but gets its title from something much more personal for me. Back in the late ’70s, John Cage wrote a mesostic poem called “Many Happy Returns,” in honor of his dear friend—also my mentor and friend—Lou Harrison. He compares Lou’s music to a river in delta, with all these different influences and currents, coming together in a big beautiful sweep of music. And in the last line of the poem, Cage writes, “Listening to it, we become ocean.” I’ve always been struck by what a beautiful image that is.
So now, a little history: some time ago, I was commissioned to compose a piece for the Seattle Chamber Players. Then a few years later, the Seattle Symphony and their music director Ludovic Morlot approached me, and asked if I would be interested in composing something for the Symphony. Part of Ludo’s vision for the orchestra is to bring it into the 21st century, and to put a special emphasis on new music, so of course I was thrilled at the possibilities.
One idea that I suggested was to build on the sound world of an earlier piece I’d composed called Dark Waves, which is a 12-minute piece for large orchestra and electronic sounds. To my surprise and delight, Ludo was very interested. I was calling it “Dark Waves on steroids,” and I knew early on that I wanted to take that oceanic sound and expand it into a much larger timeframe. So the result was Become Ocean.
Anonymous 4 @ the Bang on a Can Marathon, Brookfield Place, NYC
A month after David Lang's newest release, love fail, the chatter still abounds, most recently with a gushing statement by The New York Times on Anonymous 4's "radiant" performance at the Bang on a Can Marathon, and a sizeable official review on iTunes, which offers a glowing recommendation.
Mr. Lang had been represented by sections of his medievally inflected “love fail,” its radiant harmonies captured by the vocal quartet Anonymous 4 – The New York Times
American composer David Lang's works are often conceptually tailored to a particular and unusual ensemble that matches the thematic content of the work. He has composed a piece ("Crowd Out") for 1,000 voices, inspired by the sound of soccer crowds in Britain. Nevertheless, Love Fail marks something of a milestone for him: he has never before written for a group with the chops of the medieval-oriented, female vocal quartet Anonymous 4. ("Shelter," composed for Trio Mediaeval, is a pale comparison.) For Anonymous 4, too, the recording is a milestone: around the time it was released in 2014, the group announced its retirement after the 2015-2016 season, and it perhaps points the way to a future in contemporary music for its supremely talented members. "Love Fail," like many of Lang's other compositions, is somewhat unclassifiable, and in this lies its appeal. It's not a cantata, song cycle, or opera, although it was originally presented on-stage. The work is a rumination in 15 short sections on the medieval idea of love, and specifically on the story of Tristan and Isolde. Wagner's Liebestod makes an appearance at the end. Mostly the work sets translated fragments (Google-translated, the composer says) of medieval poetry, along with some modern interpolations by poet Lydia Davis; the latter are effective riffs on the basic idea, and some are even humorous (try "Forbidden Subjects," track eight). Lang's music falls in between minimalism and a quasi-medieval style appropriate to the subject, with elements of pastiche and some hair-raising interludes. What sets it apart from the norm is the care with which it is shaped to take advantage of the multiple colors and sharp edges of Anonymous 4's voices, and at times the sounds heard achieve the grail of being simple and uncanny at the same time. Like Lang's other works, it will get your attention immediately, but it also has a real economy that is new and growing. Highly recommended. – iTunes
— I CARE IF YOU LISTEN (@icareifulisten) June 22, 2014
(Vine video c/o I Care If You Listen)
Glenn Kotche's Fantasyland EP - available now on iTunes.
— Glenn Kotche (@glennkotche) June 24, 2014
Wilco drummer and composer Glenn Kotche conceived of Fantasyland as a companion piece to his March 2014 Cantaloupe Music release Adventureland for a number of reasons. First and foremost, he felt that the process of composing and recording Adventureland had generated so much outstanding music that he couldn’t possibly fit it on one full-length album.
“I knew almost as soon as I finished sequencing the pieces for Adventureland that I’d come back to it,” Kotche recalls. “When you get the chance to work with so many great musicians — Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird and Gamelan Galak Tika — you’re bound to have more than you know what to do with. Fantasyland is the next chapter, if you will; I wanted to put it out there for anyone who feels drawn to this music, to dig into it and maybe make some new discoveries of their own — just like I did when I made the original recordings.”
Not merely for completists, Fantasyland stands on its own as a complete experience. Its focal point is the 15-minute Double Fantasy (elements of which provided the grist for the sound collage Triple Fantasy, from Adventureland); featuring Chicago’s eighth blackbird ensemble, the piece is a rousing testament to the versatility of the musicians and the confidence and range of Kotche as a composer of challenging new music.
Fantasyland is available exclusively on iTunes Music.
A snapshot of our label page on the iTunes store - all titles are on sale until June 24th.
You may have seen a number of tweets the past week where we called out @iTunesMusic. Our entire catalog is currently on sale, from EPs to double-albums, anywhere from $1.98 to $9.99. The sale goes through the Bang on a Can Marathon and ends June 24th (upon release of Glenn Kotche's Fantasyland).
Find what your collection is missing at itunes.com/cantaloupemusic!
In 2008, David Lang won the Pulitzer Prize for a work called The Little Match Girl Passion, which paired four singers with some small hand bells. That was it: the rest was ringing silence, Lang's careful, mazelike vocal writing, and a quiet mournfulness that troubled and changed anyone who heard it. Love Fail feels like a revisiting, or extension, of that work—it's also scored for four voices, this time the vocal group Anonymous 4, and it also features hand bells. The source water, the English madrigal, is the same. But the temperature is a degree or two warmer, more hospitable to cellular life; the 15 pieces, spread across 50 minutes, touch on emotions closer to mundane existence—the difficulty of communication, the impossibility of remaining in the right.
As with much of Lang's recent work, Love Fail exists in a purposeful, elegant stasis—things change, but barely. His music is, in a sense, process music; you can hear, or feel, the motor that Lang feeds his ideas into whirring beneath the surface. He talks openly in interviews about being an ideas-first composer, one for whom sounds and notes come afterward. But his music always comes out sounding luminous, gorgeous, a reminder that processes are what people make of them. The material David Lang feeds into his processes contains his doubts, fears, bleak thoughts—his, or someone else's—that he is empathetic enough to channel directly into his music. They come out scrambled, but they quickly reassemble themselves in our perception, in much the same way our minds flip the upside down image our retina captures.
It is this empathy that lifts his music into an exalted, secular realm -- a place where we're forced to understand each other. On Death Speaks, he turned the figure of Death into someone beautiful, someone worth loving. On The Little Match Girl Passion, he rendered the slow death of the titular figure, alone on the street, into a gentle transfiguration, like a time-lapse video of a flower blooming. On "Forbidden Subjects," Lang examines a couple rendered slowly mute by an unnamed tragedy: "Soon most every subject they might want to talk about/ Is associated with your tongue, now they're unpleasant, see/ And becomes a subject they can't talk about/So that as time goes by there is less and less they can safely talk about." The mood is grave, but quiet, and tender—there are dark forces in his pieces, but they don't necessarily hold anything against you.
The complex emotions at the center of "He was and she was" circle around regret and loss: "She was so charming/ She was so lovely"; "He was an admirable man/ He was so admirable." Lang's scoring of the text draws the ear to the only word that matter to him in this construction: "was." The "he was" and "she was" are broken up into bits, one simply a repeating interval while another washes whispers of "hewashewashewashewashewas" around the feet of the piece. The specifics of what these people were aren't important; Lang wants us to meditate on the fact that they were, and no longer are.
"Right and Wrong," meanwhile, parses a series of mesmerizing, unnavigable rules about the divide in its title: "She knows she is right/ But to say she is right is wrong/ In this case, to be correct and say so is wrong/ In certain cases she may be correct, and may say so in certain cases/but if she insists too much, she becomes wrong/ So wrong that even her correctness becomes wrong by association." Read those lines on paper, and they drone like stereo instructions. But listen to Lang's setting of this text—two lower voices intoning like intercom beeps, the other two fluttering up like birds scared from a tree—and feel the grace of his animating touch. His mind can turn even the sharpest mental scrutiny into something resembling a loving caress. – Jayson Greene, Pitchfork
photo by Evan Hurd
John Luther Adams, whose music is inspired by — and sometimes performed in — natural landscapes, has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his symphonic work Become Ocean. The Pulitzer jury described the piece as "a haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels." The Seattle Symphony and music director Ludovic Morlot gave the world premiere June 20, 2013.
All of the finalists' works were premiered on the West Coast. The other two nominated composers were previous Pulitzer winner John Adams (no relation) for his oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary and Christopher Cerrone for the opera Invisible Cities;both of those pieces debuted in Los Angeles.
By telephone Monday afternoon, I located John Luther Adams, 61, in Houghton, Mich. (in the state's Upper Peninsula), where he is in residence at Michigan Tech. He said he was napping between classes when he got "a most welcome wakeup call" informing him he'd won the award.
TOM HUIZENGA: Your music is tied so wonderfully to the natural landscapes around us. And this piece Become Ocean is a particularly good example of this. Tell us about this piece.
JOHN LUTHER ADAMS: I've spent most of my life in the interior of Alaska, hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, so I'm more of a mountain and tundra guy. But in recent years I've been spending more time by the Pacific Ocean and that was where I composed Become Ocean. As I like to say, it really wrote itself. All I had to do is sleep with the windows open at night and let the sound of the sea seep into my subconscious mind and get up in the morning and write it down.
HUIZENGA: Tell us a little about what Become Ocean sounds like, the scoring and the general feel of the piece.
ADAMS: As the title implies it's an ocean of sound. It's scored for large symphony orchestra, a bunch of percussionists, a large string section, full woodwinds and brass and even four — count them, four — harps. The orchestra is deployed as three separate ensembles. It's really a piece for three orchestras. The different instrumental choirs are separated as widely as possible in the performance space. It works in waves of orchestral sound, in different tonal colors and harmonies that ebb and flow, a bit like waves of the tides over the course of 48 or 50 minutes. And every now and then there are these big tsunamis of sound, when all the crests of all the waves coincide.
HUIZENGA: The Pulitzer jury described your piece as "a haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels." That made me wonder if you were thinking about global warming while writing this piece.
ADAMS: Aren't we all thinking about global warming all the time? It's perhaps the central defining issue of this moment in our history as a species, so it's always on my mind in everything that I do. It was certainly at the forefront as I composed this piece.
HUIZENGA: Are you trying to fuse us with nature in this piece? The title is Becoming Ocean and there's this push and pull between us as a species and the ocean. We came from the ocean, are we heading back there?
ADAMS: Maybe sooner than we think if we don't wake up and change the way we are living. Part of what I've tried to do in my music, in my life's work, is to try to help us broaden and deepen our attention to the larger music of the world that we inhabit — thru listening, maybe to remember our rightful place in the greater scheme of life on this beautiful stone spinning in space.
HUIZENGA: Any ideas of how winning this award might change your career?
ADAMS: I never thought much about career. I'm an artist. You know, I moved to Alaska in my 20s. I never studied with the right people at the right schools. Early on I didn't win the right prizes. It seems that every time I had the opportunity to make the right career choice, I made the wrong career choice, which in the long run turned out to be the right artistic choice. And now, after 40 years or more of doing this, it seems like maybe there's a larger audience for the work and that's profoundly gratifying.
Check out our exclusive video, premiering today on SPIN.com, with drummer and percussionist Glenn Kotche, whose Cantaloupe Music debut Adventureland also drops today.
Compiled, edited and shot by our friend and colleague Gabriel Furtado, this nearly 7-minute mini-doc profiles Kotche as he digs into what motivates him as a composer, the making of Adventureland, his work with Wilco, his myriad sources of inspiration, and much more!
Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's film The Great Beauty -- a visually arresting portrait of "an aging writer's reflections on life and his search for meaning among Rome's idle rich" -- took the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards last night. The film's soundtrack features two pieces by David Lang: I lie (with the Torino Vocal Ensemble) and world to come (with Maya Beiser).
The Great Beauty is still in the middle of its US theatrical run, and is being added to more screens after its Oscar win. Check listings here to see it where you live!