Sneak Peek Audio Leak: “Disarm” by Tristan Eckerson

by Maggie Molloy

Composer and pianist Tristan Eckerson is a bit of a nomad—both literally and musically. Moving from city to city since his teenage years, he’s developed an ear for musical exploration and a willingness to follow the melodies wherever they lead him.

His compositions draw musical inspiration from around the world, distilling it through the uniquely tender, quiet introspection that only solo piano music can express. The music itself is nomadic, balancing a restless, forward momentum against moments of silence, reflection, and restraint.

Eckerson’s new album Disarm, which comes out September 16 on 1631 Recordings, features a collection of solo piano works which blend elements of minimalism and modal jazz with more traditional classical idioms.

But you don’t have to wait until September 16 to get a taste. We’re thrilled to premiere the title track off the album right here on Second Inversion. Give it a listen and read through our interview with Eckerson below.

Second Inversion:  What was the inspiration behind “Disarm”?

Tristan Eckerson: I had been getting really into modal writing and listening to a lot of Chick Corea, and I wanted to do a piece that was modal all the way through—so that was the basis for “Disarm.” I also think it was inspired by listening to a lot of Alberto Ginastera for the same reasons. I didn’t want to get into tonal harmony at all, but I still wanted to do something that had some variation, a chord progression, and excitement.

SI: How would you describe the sound of this piece?

TE: It’s definitely modal and you could say it has a modern, minimalist sound, at least to me. It also harkens back a little bit to Ginastera, or at least that’s what I hope. I think it’s energetic and I was really trying to fuse the sounds of jazz and world with contemporary classical—to make something that wasn’t outwardly “jazzy,” but that incorporated elements of modal jazz, was composed, and could still fit into the world of what’s considered “contemporary classical” music.

SI: How does this piece relate to the rest of the album?

TE: I think it is the lynchpin of the album. I wanted to do something minimal, ethereal, and modal, but also contemporary, genre-bending, and exciting. And I think that “Disarm,” being the title track, is a fusion of all of those things. Some of the other pieces have elements of one or the other, but “Disarm” combines the many elements that I like in classical and contemporary music into one composition.


Tristan Eckerson’s full-length album Disarm comes out September 16 on 1631 Recordings. Click here to view tour dates for his European tour in September.

SNEAK PEEK AUDIO LEAK: I sang you to the moon by Gregg Belisle-Chi

by Maggie Stapleton

Second Inversion presents new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre… and we mean NEW. Sneak Peek Audio Leak is your chance to stream fresh sounds and brand new music of note with insights from our team and the artists.

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Gregg, Chelsea, Raymond, and Carmen. Photo by Andrew Nicholl.

I sang to you and the moon is a brand new release from guitarist and composer Gregg Belisle-Chi, featuring vocalist Chelsea Crabtree, trumpeter Raymond Larsen, and bassist Carmen Rothwell. This quartet is a fusion of two preexisting groups – Gregg and Chelsea as a singer-songwriter duo & Tyrant Lizard, a trio of Gregg, Raymond, and Carmen. 

The sonic landscape of this project captures overlapping musical influences from both groups’ past traditions with their hometown musical heroes Bill Frisell and the Fleet Foxes. It also dives gracefully into an interdisciplinary world, melding the poetry of Carl Sandburg. It’s a little bit jazz, a heaping spoonful singer-songwriter, a splash of folk, and seeping with originality, above all.

Second Inversion is thrilled to give you a Sneak Peek Audio Leak of the first track, Between Two Hills, prior to the album’s release on December 21!

You can hear this music live at their Royal Room release show on Wednesday, December 21 at 7:30pm (no cover, but all donations go directly to the musicians).

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Gregg Belisle-Chi. Photo by Sasha Arutyunova

SNEAK PEEK AUDIO LEAK: Symphony Number One

by Maggie Stapleton

Second Inversion presents new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre… and we mean NEW. Sneak Peek Audio Leak is your chance to stream fresh sounds and brand new music of note with insights from our team and the artists.

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Symphony Number One is Baltimore’s newest chamber orchestra dedicated to performing and promoting substantial works by emerging composers. Led by Music Director Jordan Randall Smith, Symphony Number One brings together great composers of the past, virtuoso performers of the present, and the leading compositional voices of the future.

Their new album, more, is released on December 16 but we’re thrilled to offer a Sneak Peek Audio Leak of one of the selections: The Promised Burning by Andrew Posner.

 

Inspired by the Sabbath poems of writer and activist Wendell Berry, it’s a musical representation of man-made environmental destruction and the profound grief that future generations will feel en masse when the effects of this destruction are painfully obvious. It is a call to awaken from the delusions that we are separate from the Earth and that its resources and ecosystems are expendable tools in our fruitless attempts to satisfy our greed.

The album features music by two other young, talented composers. Timelapse Variations by Natalie Draper and Light Cathedral by Jonathan Russell round out this sophisticated third album from an ensemble with a very bright future ahead.

583f1e9470a81L-R top – Natalie Draper, Jonathan Russell;
L-R bottom: Andrew Posner, Jordan Randall Smith

SNEAK PEEK AUDIO LEAK: Kirk Starkey’s “Songs of Sudbury”

by Maggie Stapleton

Second Inversion presents new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre… and we mean NEW. Sneak Peek Audio Leak is your chance to stream fresh sounds and brand new music of note with insights from our team and the artists.

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In advance of its release this Friday, July 22, Second Inversion is pleased to present to your ears for the very first time, Kirk Starkey’s Songs of Sudbury, an autobiographical musical landscape with gorgeously intertwining melodies, pizzicato thumping beats, driving lines, and ambient sonorities. It has enough underlying art-rock flavor to please fans of Radiohead or Muse and enough soaring, sweeping cello beauty to please the traditional classical heads, and the originality to make you question what kind genre, if any, it falls into.

“My father worked in Sudbury in the mines, and I was born and lived there until the age of four. We never returned leaving behind an unattended family trauma. It was the my first time returning since childhood when I performed at the Northern Lights Festival in 2012. At this point my transition from classical performer to sound artist was already well underway.

This album connects the present with the past utilizing my cello as chosen tool of expression. In my record you will find the tracing of fragments that barely exist, and the search for meaning when it’s not clear there is any to be found. It is a personal memoir of my early childhood, a reflection on the loss of my brother, and the reclaiming of a lost chapter.” – Kirk Starkey

Songs of Sudbury was recorded at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, Canada, following suit with Kirk’s specialization in recording in beautiful spaces. He’s also a frequent television score collaborator, and can be heard on X Company, Flashpoint, and Hannibal.

SNEAK PEEK AUDIO LEAK: Pale Ground by Andrew V. Phillips and Jon Buckland

by Maggie Stapleton

Second Inversion presents new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre… and we mean NEW. Sneak Peek Audio Leak is your chance to stream fresh sounds and brand new music of note with insights from our team and the artists.

Exterior

Imagine you’re here. It’s the largest and northernmost region of Finland, known as Lapland. Only 3.4% of Finland’s population lives here and the population has been declining for the last 25 years. Peaceful, serene, remote.

Now imagine you’re here recording an album in a remote cabin for one week only. Start to finish, Jon Buckland and Andrew V. Phillips had this very experience, and the fruit that bore is Pale Ground. They had no formal, thematic, or stylistic plans, but rather set with intentions to reflect and react upon the landscape, the vastness, the distance, and their emotions that came with it.

(Streaming through Second Inversion’s SoundCloud has closed, but you can stream and purchase via Bandcamp!)

Beginning with “Close In,” Buckland and Phillips perfectly depict the snowy landscape, the Pale Ground, in all its expanse. Slowly unfolding harmonic and melodic ideas strike feelings of contemplation, longing, and searching. A sparkle, the sound of a sleigh bell, emerges amidst the grey backdrop. It’s a subtle nod to the season, and to hopefulness of finding one’s way through the never ending landscape.

Bell-like tones ring throughout “Nautical Twilight,” evoking twinkling stars and a dreamlike state. By the end, it gives way to a demon, emerging at first with gentle persistence. This “night terror” fights with intensity, but only for a brief two minutes, through “The Machine,” and releases its tension into “Skull Beneath The Skin.” By this point, the album has established an ebb and flow that keeps this listener on her the edge of her seat to hear what unfolds next.

After one week, I don’t know if I’d have cabin fever or would want to stay there forever, but I’m glad to have been transported there for 30 minutes with this music. Whether your day-to-day surroundings are vast or compact, I encourage you to immerse yourself in the simulation of space by way of Pale Ground and travel to this virtual winter wonderland of mystery, discovery, and hope.

SNEAK PEEK AUDIO LEAK: Loop 2.4.3’s Time-Machine_music

by Maggie Stapleton

Second Inversion presents new and unusual music from all corners of the classical genre… and we mean NEW. Sneak Peek Audio Leak is your chance to stream fresh sounds and brand new music of note with insights from our team and the artists.

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Loop 2.4.3 has been producing percussion and electronics-driven music since 2004. Founder Thomas Kozumplik guides the ensemble, varying in size from solo to octet (but most often 2-3 performers), through his vision of exploration and freedom. The group’s name comes from a place near and dear to Thomas’ heart – Powers Hall 243 at Central Michigan University, where he and a “Loop,” of close friends spent countless hours making music together.

Time-Machine_music is an entirely solo composition and performance venture for Thomas. This 6-track collection has juxtaposing acoustic and electronic textures in every pore and fiber of the 36 minutes. Thomas’ electro-acoustic percussion set-up includes Chinese tom-toms, Indian bells, crotales, log drums, tambourim, bass drum, percussion sample pad, tape echo, and delay. The fun doesn’t stop there – he also plays marimba, vibraphone, Thai gongs, piano, Wurlitzer, steel drum, kalimba, and uses vocal samples.

(this album is no longer available for streaming via Second Inversion, but you can visit Music Starts from Silence to order your copy!)

As the name of the album implies, time is of the essence, and explores manipulations of time through a cathartic journey. Thomas goes on to elaborate that Time-Machine_music, “explores the vast and tiny spaces, the worm holes, or the connections between points in time, and even singular points of time where an overwhelming multitude of thoughts, ideas, and emotions occur simultaneously. It acknowledges that brilliance and sagacity may come from a place that is entangled with conflict, controversy, emotional instability, and the surreal, hyperreal, hallucinatory receptors of the mind. It explores the illusion of the individual trapped in the phalanx of society, moving forward, backward and sideways all at once. It is an overwhelming cry for life and freedom, an escape from a world trapped under its own weight.”

Loop 2.4.3’s sound is rooted in classical chamber music, but with psychedelic rock, jazz, and improvisation influences, stemming from Thomas’ upbringing playing in garage bands, metal bands, thrash bands, and jazz bands in Michigan. I might describe it as minimalism meets heavy metal meets techno DJ beats. “Art music” is how Thomas best describes it, and goes on to say, “It’s definitely longer listening than pop music. It takes time to build, but then you get the reward. I suggest you turn it up really f*ing loud (laughing).” Agreed! The opening track, “Out to War,” is anything but a subtle introduction. The opening throaty, dark, repetitive “Mind Control” chanting hearkens back to acidic rock from the past, but soon breaks free to ambient piano, steel drums, and textures that are beautiful, calming, and serene.

The use of human voice is eerie and captivating throughout the disc. Events in Thomas’ life inspired the lyrics, but tie into broader topics. Stay tuned for the full scores with lyrics which will soon be available from MusicStartsFromSilence.com. Voice sampling opens “MK Ultra,” unfolding in a long form to cascading, pattering, sounds of the marimba that interweaves with the voice and flow back into the keyboard percussion.  The title track, clocking in at a significant length of 12 minutes, was the genesis for the body of work and holds the foundation of instrumentation, sounds, and approach. The voice is presented differently here, in single-word, echoing samples from this poem by Thom:

“Stories of power, control, love, and enlightenment are a constant in the history of man. Our idea of TIME is shaped by personal and cultural events.

The history of man floats in the ether of deep SPACE. We must venture there, to learn the secrets of our elders.”

While much of the material in this work has a rather dark quality, “Moving Finger of Time” has a lighter feel to it – more straight-ahead in form and with a bit of humour. The final track in the collection, ironically called “Prelude (for Sophia)” brings the distortion of time full circle. The dedication to Sophia means something to Thomas, like much of the other music here “is open for immersive experience and interpretation.”

Ultimately, I was curious about Thomas’ goal with Time-Machine_music. His response? “I’m not sure it’s about a specific accomplishment. The need to create and express things is most important. I suppose I hope to share it with people. Maybe the biggest accomplishment would be keeping my sanity by spending time working through things and being absorbed in the music. I hope that people will listen to it and know that it’s okay to feel things…to confront the darkness but also to see the beauty. Sometimes the world makes you want to scream… and sometimes maybe you should.”

Whether you scream, cry, laugh, it’s always better out than in. Go forth and express!