NNA084: Qasim Naqvi – ‘Preamble’ CD/CS/DL
NNA is proud to announce the release of “Preamble,” a recording of new compositions by Qasim Naqvi. Perhaps best known for his work on drums in the modern acoustic trio Dawn of Midi, here Naqvi assumes the role of composer, creating a series of short works for mixed acoustic instruments. The compositions on this recording were originally commissioned by the media artist Mariam Ghani, the choreographer Erin Ellen Kelly, and the St. Louis Art Museum as a score to a film installation loosely based on China Miéville’s sci-fi noir novel “The City & the City.” With “Preamble,” Naqvi combines graphic notation with traditional notational forms. Recalling the works of Penderecki, Earle Brown, Ligeti and Xenakis, these aleatoric components allow the ensemble to make spontaneous choices within a structured framework. Naqvi says, “Some of the graphic components deal with dynamics and expression, while others deal with duration and rhythm or ranges that are unique to the particular instruments in the ensemble. This symbolic language is fused into a more conventional style of notation. The conductor can let the ensemble go about their business or at any point, assert a different set of choices into the equation. With “Preamble,” I wanted to strike a balance. I wanted the element of chance but not total chance. The performers can make certain choices for themselves, based on the watchful impulses of the conductor.” The result is a composition that walks the line between chance and intention. The music impeccably makes full use of the capabilities of each instrument, exploring staccato attacks, fluid sustained tones, trills, scratches and filigree along the way. Harmony is present although abstracted, swaying between dissonance and consonance, but never too far in either direction, drifting in and out of alignment. The emotional tone of the piece cycles from somber to joyous, mysterious to frenetic, and back again. Punctuated by moments of suspended anxiety, “Preamble” finds balance in the cyclical capture and release of tension. Due to the unique nature of this notation, “Preamble” could be performed hundreds of times and no two outcomes would be alike, a quality of inventiveness and originality that makes Naqvi shine in the realm of modern composition. “Preamble” was recorded at the Church of the Advent of Hope in Manhattan, NY by the Contemporary Music Ensemble of NYU, under the direction of Jonathan Haas. Cassette includes digital download coupon.
NNA085: Booker Stardrum – ‘Dance And’ CS/DL
“Dance And” is a complex and disorienting celebration of all things percussive, conceived in the brain and executed by the body of Booker Stardrum. While taking a break from the role of drummer in his various other projects (Cloud Becomes Your Hand, Landlady, VaVatican), Stardrum began solo experimentation with his instrument to develop new compositional ideas in percussive sound. After a period of live performance and bedroom trial-and-error, the seed had been planted and the roots of “Dance And” began to grow. A series of residencies in Kerhonkson, NY and Red Hook, Brooklyn gave way to passionate exploration and dedicated recording sessions where percussion, the instrument family with the widest variety of timbres, was fully liberated and allowed to exist as it’s own new sound world. Approached from the mindset of sound art and modern composition as opposed to that of traditional rock and pop music, “Dance And” retains an atmosphere of intense experimentation where the multitude of sounds from the drum set are juxtaposed against each other in inventive and puzzling combinations. Engineered, produced, and mixed in collaboration with VaVatican’s Nathaniel Morgan, “Dance And” is largely a studio composition, where unorthodox recording techniques and elaborate processing are used to extract every ounce of texture and detail from vast array of prepared drum kits, cymbals, gongs, bells, resonant metals, and more. Synthesizer and guitar make cameo appearances as well, but they are used in more auxiliary roles to further complement the dynamic and diverse range of sounds discovered through the active process of studio investigation. Brooding tom tom rolls are viciously slashed apart through rough cut edits, while a chorus of bells and gongs resonate forth through dissonant drones, only to be met by abrupt synth stabs and the sputtering of snare drums. Free drumming solos are filtered beyond recognition by the use of a contact mic’d cymbal as a microphone, while unmanned guitars laying on the ground jam themselves through pulsating sympathetic vibrations, showcasing the acoustic nature and resultant power of the kit as an entire band in itself. “Dance And” is a daring musical endeavor, brought to life at the hands (and feet) of one the most creative modern drummers operating at a compositionally and conceptually high level. Cassette includes digital download coupon. Material repeats on both sides.