13 March 2008 – Artists – Releases
THE WIRE TAPPER: EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW OF NICO MUHLY’S MOTHERTONGUE
A track from Nico Muhly’s upcoming album Mothertongue is featured in the latest edition of The Wire Tapper CD that comes free with the April issue of Wire Magazine, available at newsstands today.
The piece is a section from the album’s title track ‘Mothertongue’ which lasts a whole 19 minutes in its full version. It is written for Abigail Fischer, a New York based mezzo-soprano and an ensemble of oboe, strings synthesizers, electric bass, celesta and electronics.
In the words of Muhly himself: “‘Mothertongue’ is in four movements: the first engages the singer with all her addresses and ways to remember English grammar. The second takes place in a shower and at the breakfast table, and features an introspective and congested twitching and muttering. The third section (entitled ‘hress,’ the Icelandic word for being over-excited and stupidly joyful) is manic, frisky, and eager to please; this spirals into a violent, ecstatic recitation of addresses and zip codes antagonized by a ‘monster’ made out of over-amplified cereal and synthesizers.”
Mothertongue will be released worldwide in May, in the meantime get yourself a copy of the Wire Tapper and Nico’s previous album Speaks Volumes.
And if you haven’t read it already the profile on Nico Muhly in The New Yorker magazine comes highly recommended: Eerily Composed by Rebecca Mead
On The Cover: Gudrun Gut - From Malaria!, Mania D and Neubauten to Ocean Club radio and Monika Enterprise, this 'dilettante' has genially hosted Berlin's new music scene for 30 years. By Philip Sherburne. Stuck To The Cover: The Wire Tapper 19: the latest volume in our series of free new music compilations. Plus: Dave Stelfox's tribute to hip hop producer J Dilla, Michael Rother of Neu!'s Invisible Jukebox, the return of free jazz bassist Henry Grimes, Philip Clark's Henry Cow primer and more!Tweet
What the press says
The EP is a lilting, sometimes arch set of modern classical composition – by no means intimidating to neophytes, and encoded with delightful little motifs.
Breaking down as a cycle of five efficiently short pieces, the results are captivating and continue to strengthen the case for Nico Muhly as one of the world’s consistently brilliant young composers.
Brubaker alternates between lovely ivory lines and frantic, freeform eighty-eights pounding, while Sirota tends to supply sublimely droning string swells in the background.
Drones & Piano is an expressive, enchanting, moving skein.
...it’s real appeal is in savouring how Muhly creatively uses consonance and dissonance with his chosen drone.
Don’t assume this five-song collection sounds like your aunt singing Duran Duran whilst lugging a Dyson across the living room… the bedrock of these pieces becomes highly charged; stuck within a confined space they so desperately want to break free of.
For a large part of this quarter of an hour, Brubaker pokes the keys of his piano in an obsessive and compulsive way, and gives a strength and intensity to the story that at times abstracts any particular genesis or conception of the project, as if everything came to life on its own and full of meaning much beyond the constitution and starting point of the scores.
...it is both playful and studied, something incredibly hard to achieve. Well worth a closer look.
These are drones with an intellect.
The sharp bites of fingers crashing against the piano’s keys put against high pitched whirrs of the violin take you on a incredible journey through suspense and terror.
Nico Muhly has an intriguing creative mind; [Drones & Violin is] an interesting work and yet another addition to his diverse back catalogue.
Muhly’s versatility has been commented on plenty at this point, and this series finale is yet more ammunition.
Muhly challenges his compositional skills rather brilliantly and creates three intensely captivating series of compositions.
What is noteworthy here is the way songcraft repeatedly emerges from tension. Muhly’s explorations never fail to find something worthwhile.
Drones is a necessary acquisition for anyone interested in Muhly’s work outside pop.
...Nico Muhly’s pieces feel like a series of archly posed questions. In their formal inventiveness, love of blank space, and haiku-like neatness, they arouse the part of your brain that suspects it’s being outsmarted…To feel your intellect being playfully, patiently tested, as if he is circling your mind and kicking its tires, can be a wonderfully maddening experience.
“...the best thing I’ve ever heard of Muhly’s…”
One of the most impressive aspects of these pieces is the variety of relationships that unfold between the “solo” instruments and the drones…beautifully despondent.
“...the latest from this brilliant, boundary-pushing composer [...] is post-minimal virtuosity, sometimes rollicking in nods to the likes of Rzewski, sometimes static sculpture, sometimes rock-and-roll. It’s, vitally, never timid.”
A hugely rewarding album that’s surely set to be one of the finest modern classical releases of 2010.
..it’s the sheer variety of the invention, and the soundworld created for it, that holds the attention…
Throughout, Muhly realizes some magical effects
In a transfixing exploration of the sung voice’s possibilities, he draws on Icelandic myth, English folklore, 17th-century church politics and royal superstition. It is never less than fascinating.
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