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Bedroom Community

John Schaefer’s “New Sounds” – 30 Years and Still Relevant

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Composer Ben Frost, Brian Eno, & host John Schaefer ((WNYC/Caryn Havlik))

You cannot get more “today” than Ben Frost, member of Bedroom Community. What? You don’t know Bedroom Community? Check them out with the supplied link.

If Brian Eno is your guy, you are in good company.

Thanks, John, for 30 great years. I just caught PGM 2067, the 20th anniversary show, on my Zune. It used to be a lot of work to get those shows, recording them. Now, with RSS feeds to tell us what is going on, and downloads, it is a snap.

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From Bedroom Community: “So’laris” New in November

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Ben Frost and Daniel Bjarnason So’laris
Bedroom Community HVALUR12
Releasing November 8, 2011

Ben Frost and Dani’el Bjarnason are two composers used to shrugging off the distinction between experimental sound-art and deeply felt melodies. Frost’s vast, blackened post-industrial works often crystallize in moments of quiet beauty before disintegrating in pure visceral noise; Bjarnason’s orchestral music marries brutal modernism to classical aesthetics one moment and soaring ethereal harmonies the next. And yet here, on the tail of two widely acclaimed releases; Bjarnason’s PROCESSIONS and Frost’s BY THE THROAT, we are given something altogether new. A unique collaboration, SÓLARIS is a quiet, stilled and all consuming symphonic suite at once as affecting and uncanny as the science- fiction classic that inspired it.

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Ben Frost

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Dani’el Bjarnason

The power of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris is not in its futuristic sets, or in the hypnotic shots of the alien planet’s weird, fluid surface, but it’s in the way he juxtaposes his alien, futuristic elements against the intimately familiar. This is a future not just of flashing lights and video screens, but of wood and wool and leather, of dogs and horses, books and photographs. In Frost & Bjarnason’s SÓLARIS we do find the futuristic, gaseous atmospheres and pulses one might expect from a sci-fi soundtrack. Yet here they are carved instead from the warm, fragile sonorities of a string orchestra -Poland’s Sinfonietta Cracovia– a gently prepared piano whose harmonies warp and melt before transforming again—and waves upon waves of guitar.

Created through a unique series of processes, Frost & Bjarnason’s initial sketches —improvised to the film— were fed through software designed to correct music which tried to turn their dense and distorted sonic input into a digital sequence of raw musical data. Working from data riddled with error and misunderstanding, a human score was orchestrated; the whole process deftly mirroring the core of the film’s own narrative of memory and loss, alien doppelgängers and emotional feedback loops. Brian Eno —who consulted closely in the creation of SÓLARIS— also used the same film to create a video accompaniment to this music in another strange loop of computer-generated distortion.

But here the score stands on its own. SÓLARIS; a journey into an internal world, into the self, a flux of wonder, horror, sorrow and tenderness, and a ravishing sensory experience.”

Visit Bedroom Community’s web site, look around. These Icelandic artists are doing great work in New Music.


From Bedroom Community: Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason – Solaris

Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason are two composers used to shrugging off the distinction between experimental sound-art and deeply felt melodies. Frost’s vast, blackened post-industrial works often crystallize in moments of quiet beauty before disintegrating in pure visceral noise; Bjarnason’s orchestral music marries brutal modernism to classical aesthetics one moment and soaring ethereal harmonies the next. And yet here, on the tail of two widely acclaimed releases; Bjarnason’s PROCESSIONS and Frost’s BY THE THROAT, we are given something altogether new. A unique collaboration, SÓLARIS is a quiet, stilled and all consuming symphonic suite at once as affecting and uncanny as the science- fiction classic that inspired it.”

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Ben Frost

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Daniel Bjarnason

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SOLARIS Bedroom Community HVALUR12 Releases November 07 2011

1. We Don’t Need Other Worlds, We Need Mirrors
2. Simulacra I
3. Simulacra II
4. Snow
5. Reyja
6. Cruel Miracles
7. Hydrogen Sulfide
8. Unbreakable Silence
9. You Mean More To Me Than Any Scientific Truth
10. Saccades
11. Venia

See the full exploration of this project here.


Q2 Album of the Week: Puzzle Muteson “En Garde”

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Puzzle Muteson EnGarde
Bedroom Community HVALUR11 (June 2011)

Q2 says:

“If the acoustic guitar had eclipsed the piano’s popularity as a household instrument in the 19th Century—as it has now—parlour music would probably be more akin to Puzzle Muteson’s spare and eloquent songbook than, say, Arthur Sullivan’s “The Lost Chord” or Stephen Foster’s…everything.

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Puzzle Muteson

Muteson, a nom de plume for English singer and guitarist Terry Magson, has the trademark indie-folk voice found in decidedly nonclassical artists such as Damien Rice or The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard. His overall package, however, is a much grayer area when it comes to labels: Like Gabriel Kahane or Sufjan Stevens, he has a well-cultivated pop-meets-art-song aesthetic.

Ultimately, Muteson’s debut album on the equally enigmatic Valgeir Sigurðsson’s Bedroom Community label, exemplifies all of the above and more, proving that even the most scientific of categorization fails in comparison to a simple listening experience. Repetitions become their own multi-movement opuses. In En Garde, the phrase “out of control” careens like an addict from slight disarray to total chaos in the midst of clinging to spurts of calm.

Economically recondite lyrics like If you’ve had enough/Call my bluff/Open up rise out of the misty sonic aura of Muteson’s music. The opening track (and source of the above lyrics), I Was Once a Horse sets the landscape for a fully fleshed out singer-songwriter’s tone poem that sounds like a postmillennial offering from a Tannhäuser-ian Meistersinger. The tone of what’s said is just as—if not more—important as what is actually being said, and Muteson gives his work over to an organic development that unabashedly embraces a natural and emotional aesthetic. Adding to the Romanticism of the work are underlying orchestrations: Muteson’s earnest finger-picked guitar is accompanied by lush string arrangements, subtle choral breaks and ardent brass courtesy of Nico Muhly. Yet, like Sigurðsson’s production of the album, no element unduly overpowers another, allowing the true star of the work to be the full Muteson monty.”

See the article and listen to the audio here.


From New Music Box: “Nadia Sirota: Lyrical Attraction”

Read about Ms. Nadia, violist extraordinaire and genius host at 24 hour New Music stream Q2.

Nadia says, “ ‘;I just really like music,’ admits violist Nadia Sirota with an intensity that explodes the meaning of this otherwise simple sentiment. ‘ I really like just trying to communicate to the audience what I think the composer means, and maybe I’m pretty eccentric and aggressive about it.’ ”

Watch a 6 minute video in which Nadia explains her musical philosophy. The video includes bits and pieces of her work with Bedroom Community musicians.

See the full article here.


At NPR/music: First Listen – Nico Muhly, ‘Seeing Is Believing’

by Olivia Giovetti of WQXR and Q2
June 12, 2011


Olivia Giovetti

Nico Muhly has a flair for entrances. His 2007 album, Speaks Volumes, opens with a cello toward the apex of its register that quickly takes a multi-octave plunge. Mothertongue, from 2008, frenetically launches with a repeated high-octane read-through of the alphabet. Last year’s I Drink the Air Before Me pierces with a series of staccato arrows paired with more luscious, ominous rumbles, while its sister release, A Good Understanding, is heralded by a bracing organ flourish.

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Nico Muhly

Varied though these opening salvos may be, they always signal a true listening experience. With his newest album, Seeing Is Believing, Muhly doesn’t let listeners down: A repeated arabesque on a violin curves and twirls as several additional layers of strings and percussion are added to the spiral, at once complementing and contrasting the title work’s first four notes, culminating with the addition of winds. It’s not unlike the ever-expanding universe, the mapping of which inspired this concerto for solo electric six-string violin. For nearly 30 minutes, Muhly commands rapt attention, referencing influences from former mentor Philip Glass to Stravinsky, circa Rite of Spring, and Ravel at his most impressionistic.”

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Nico Muhly Seeing Is Believeing
Bedroom Community
Released via Decca Records

See the full article, and listen to the whole album or individual tracks here.


New From Bedroom Community: Puzzle Muteson’s “En Garde”

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Puzzle Muteson En Garde
Bedroom Community HVALUR11 (6.6.11)

The news: “‘It’s really a tremendously warm and uplifting listen, blessed with just divine orchestration from [Nico] Muhly, and recommended to lovers of timeless songcraft everywhere.’ – Boomkat
‘With Muteson’s quavering tenor aided by the delicate production of [Valgeir] Sigurðsson, En Garde plays out a spellbinding and hauntingly evocative fairytale of emotions of one man’s imagination.’ – Folk Radio UK

We are happy to announce our newest offering; Puzzle Muteson is an islander of a different breed and today he steps forward with his debut album En Garde. Purchasing En Garde from the Bedroom Community online store comes with an instant download of the album + a bonus track. The record is available as digital download and CD digipak, with artwork by Chris Bigg.

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From the Bedroom Community bio sheet:

Puzzle Muteson is the alter ego of an enigmatic songwriter from the Isle of Wight, rendering his music in a tremulous tenor over a finely spun web of fingerpicked guitar. Born in London, Isle of Dogs, the southern English island provided unexpected shelter for the shuddering transformation into one-man band Puzzle Muteson. His grade-school music teacher was first to recognise his unrivalled vibrato, and a little while later a parade of chance and coincidence led him to inhabit Puzzle Muteson, and start shaping a body of songs. Puzzle has since toured Ireland and the U.K., opening up for the likes of The Fruit Bats, Death Vessel and Sub Pop darling Daniel Martin Moore.
After obsessively listening to Puzzle Muteson’s own raw tapes, producer- arranger duo Valgeir Sigurðsson and Nico Muhly nurtured the songs that now inhabit his debut recording En Garde, released via Valgeir’s Bedroom Community label. The record shimmers with the signature value of Puzzle’s collaborators who have previously worked with the likes of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Antony (& the Johnsons), Sam Amidon and many others.