Released on November 17, 2023
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of isomonstrosity we are releasing ismonstrosity (instrumentals)—a version of the record stripped of vocals to emphasize the contributions of the composers commissioned for the album and the mind-blowing, virtuosic performances of the International Contemporary Ensemble which created the recordings. It is available both digitally and on the cassette version of the release.
"There was this idea in the classical world...that you could make sophisticated music, or you could be culturally relevant, but the days when ‘serious music’ could be a part of mass culture were in the past. [But to me] suddenly it was: But what if you can do both?” — isomonstrosity's Johan Lenox in The New Yorker's Talk Of The Town
"the perfect, ominous, deconstructed-classical soundscape" — Flood Magazine
isomonstrosity is a pandemic symphony assembled by three collaborators Ellen Reid, Johan Lenox, and Yuga Cohler. They solicited contributions from an array of contemporary classical composers then chopped up the results like a contemporary hip-hop/pop producer might. The trio began by reaching out to composers whose work inspired them to see if they’d be open to us collaging their compositions — and challenging expectations around authorship in “classical” vs non-classical music. Marcos Balter, Bryce Dessner, Wang Lu, Carlos Simon, Nina C. Young, Johan and I were enthusiastic about the idea. Within the constraints of quarantine, isomonstrosity emerged.
Where the original version of the album overlaid features from an all-star cast of voices from contemporary rap and modern avant-pop, this instrumental version — released on isomonstrosity's one-year anniversary — leaves the fragmented classical soundscapes to live and breath on their own.
YUGA COHLER: "Form and structure are something we talked about a lot on this album. Johan and I in particular have discussed the significance of songs like Travis Scott’s 'SICKO MODE' and Kanye West’s 'New Slaves,' which are really stitching-togethers of multiple songs, in pushing formal boundaries in popular music."
JOHAN LENOX: "isomonstrosity was the culmination of years spent building relationships and experience throughout the classical music community as well as the rap and pop world. The constraints of quarantine provided the perfect impetus to bring together some of our favorite classical composers and musicians in the only way that seemed possible during a period of remote collaboration and home recording. The result feels like the perfect musical representation of the chaos of that time. It’s one of my favorite things I have ever been a part of."
ELLEN REID: "I met Johan and Yuga when they reached out to write a new piece for a concert they were curating at Lincoln Center. It was cancelled due to COVID, but the three of us continued to talk because we're all music nerds, and we’d have long, wide-ranging conversations about music—from Luciano Berio’s 'Sinfonia' to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly."