September 23, 2014

Jherek Bischoff launches Kickstarter, tours OZ with Missy Higgins

UPDATE NOVEMBER 4, 2014: The Kickstarter surpassed its goal by 50% reaching over $23,000, and triggering the release of an exclusive digital EP just for backers! Yay Jherek! Yay backers!

It's been over a year since we've brought you any Jherek Bischoff news. Which is not to say there hasn't been any. This versatile composer/producer/sideman/arranger is just so prolific he's hard to keep up with. We couldn't report on everything unless we turned into a 24-7 Jherek Bischoff news service. (Come to think of it, for something like that experience you should check out his Twitter feed, or ours.)

Anyhoo, there are two pieces of particularly BIG NEWS to announce at the moment, so let us break the drought: (1) Jherek's just announced his forthcoming Brassland release, Cistern, and (2) he is in Australia for the next two months, supporting Missy Higgins on her OZ project, which he helped create. Before we get into the details, though, watch this video and contribute to help make Jherek's next record a reality.

Ah, the wonders of crowdfunding & multi-media: Putting record labels & writers out of business since 2009ish. Ha ha! Ahem....

On a more sincere note: We at Brassland are total geeks for ambient music. From Satie and Eno's placid zone-out soundtracks to Terry Riley and Aphex Twin's more wigged-out explorations of the form, ambient music is often the kind of tuneage that makes non-believers say "Hey, my kid could do that!" but, believe us, the subtle skill and sly restraint required to compose ambient music that you can listen to again and again and again is, in our opinion, one of the real signs of genius. And, on that front, Cistern is the music that sold us on working with Jherek in the first place: a series of ambient pieces written for chamber orchestra that may not break new ground, but certainly could become your "on repeat" digital go-to tracks or a re-spun turntable fave. (Yep, we will be releasing this on vinyl.) Inspired by the echoey confines of a 2-million gallon, empty water tank near Jherek's native Seattle, the appropriately named Cistern was recorded with hot-s**t contemporary classical ensemble Contemporaneous, and is planned for release in early spring 2015.

If you're new to Jherek's world, we've created this pay-what-you-wish Bandcamp sampler of his music in honor of the Kickstarter. Im fact, if you want a taste of what you're being asked to fund, the last track on the sampler is a demo for the title track of the new album. Stream or download it right here:

Speaking of Jherek and new worlds, have you heard that he's doing a 25-date tour of...Australia? Did you even know that such a thing was possible? (Australia's population: 23 million-ish. # of major cities: maybe 5. Do the math.) The occasion for this amazing happening is not the inexplicable trendiness of ambient orchestral music in Australia; nor is it that Jherek is touring tiny, DIY squats started by classical geeks. (Nope most of the concerts will be for audiences of around 1,000.) Here's the deal: in addition to creating his new record in 2014, Jherek has been quite busy this year working with Australian pop star Missy Higgins to co-produce her new album OZ. It is her attempt to define "the Australian songbook," and features intriguingly orchestrated (ahem, thanks Bischoff) cover versions of songs by artists such as the Go-Betweens, Slim Dusty, Something For Kate, the DiVinyls, Paul Kelly, and...wait for it...the Drones! We were surprised and delighted when we got our ears on the first release from Missy's new album, when we discovered it was from our old friends the Drones, who you may remember from the cross-country American tour they did with Devastations back in 2008. Missy's take on their song "Shark Fin Blues" sure took us back, and aback, in a good way:

This all goes to prove the old saying: "In the music business, some people are just good to work with—and Bischoff’s clearly one." Actually that's not an old saying at all but something that appeared in the Seattle Weekly's recent best of issue where they named Jherek as Seattle's best collaborator. Weirdly, we've never heard about these supposed good-people-to-work-with in the music business, but then again, we're not journalists, are quite sure they did their research, and think the "good to work with" bit certainly applies to Jherek.

Speaking of which, we're going to skip some of the other exciting stuff he's had going on—including his deepening relationship with Kronos Quartet (!?!); his lovely contribution to the Sony Masterworks compilation Red Hot + Bach; his well-reviewed and sold-out concerts at Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse; this theater music collaboration Johnny Breitwieser: A Criminal Ballad from Vienna which will premiere in Austria this November; and his full-orchestral arrangement of ex-Hüsker Dü member Grant Hart's new music for the ensemble Stargaze which premiered this summer at some European rock festivals.

Oh wait, we managed to cram it all into this post. Yay. Now give him (and us) some of your money to help assure there's plenty more to come.

More about Jherek Bischoff | More news stories for Jherek Bischoff