April 17, 2008

Nico Muhly Signs to Brassland for the United States

Remember the March 14th news story that (not so subtly) hinted at a big upcoming announcement? Well, the news broke this morning on Brooklyn Vegan, and we're happy to confirm that Brassland will be releasing Nico Muhly's Mothertongue on July 22nd, 2008.

For those not in the know, Nico Muhly is a 26-year old composer born in Vermont. He graduated from Columbia University in 2003 with a degree in English Literature and received a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School one year later. Since then, he has amassed a string of commissions, collaborations, and premieres (including The Boston Pops, the BBC, American Ballet Theater, the New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum, and Carnegie Hall) that would be notable for a composer twice his age.

More intriguing to pop listeners is Muhly's extensive work with Philip Glass as editor, keyboardist, and conductor for numerous film and stage projects as well as his contributions to projects by Rufus Wainwright, Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), Björk, Teitur, Will Oldham, and The National.

These connections highlight the most important aspect of Muhly’s musical life – community. The cast of characters who appear on Mothertongue include his closest collaborators - violist Nadia Sirota, folk singer Sam Amidon, and Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurõsson. Sigurõsson’s and Muhly’s view on musical relationships was, in part, the inspiration for Bedroom Community, the label Sigurõsson founded and which created both Mothertongue and its predecessor, Speaks Volumes, Muhly’s 2006 debut.

Classical music can be a daunting exercise for those unfamiliar with the genre. Luckily, Nico Muhly prizes communication — both in day-to-day life (such as his frequently updated blog) and in his music. It’s this sensibility which has inspired the titles of both his records. Mothertongue, in particular, sounds like the product of someone in love with language. Voices are treated as exquisite instruments. (The click of the teeth, the tap of the tongue, the smack of the lips, et. cetera.) The music itself speaks to deeper meanings and specific ideas and emotions. Muhly points out that Mothertongue, the new recording, is filled with jittery, anxious repetitions and jarring chords that are intended to suggest the nauseating atmosphere of international jet lag and airport stultification, along with more mundane domestic anxieties. For the title track, Muhly layered the voice of Abigail Fischer, a mezzo-soprano, singing all the addresses at which she has ever lived on top of recordings of another friend taking a shower, eating toast, and frying an egg.

The Tracklisting for Mothertongue:
1. Mothertongue: I. Archive
2. Mothertongue: II. Shower
3. Mothertongue: III. Hress
4. Mothertongue: IV. Monster
5. Wonders: I. New Things & New Tidings
6. Wonders: II. The Devil Appear'd In The Shape Of A Man
7. Wonders: III. A Complaint Against Thomas Weelkes
8. The Only Tune: I. The Two Sisters
9. The Only Tune: II. The Old Mill Pond
10. The Only Tune: III: The Only Tune

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