Rachel Grimes Gives Voice to Lost Stories on Folk Opera ‘The Way Forth’

On The Way Forth, Rachel Grimes (formerly of the band Rachel’s) brings her gifts as a pianist and composer to a new folk opera about Kentucky history. As Grimes pored over deeds and other documents from her home state, she mainly noticed what was missing: the accounts of women. Grimes filled in those spaces by inventing Kentucky women who lived from 1775 on and giving them stories. The album alternates between sung and spoken-word pieces, both featuring elegant string arrangements and full instr

Reviews | Julia Holter

In 2011, Julia Holter arrived seemingly armed with wisdom beyond her years. That wisdom translated into her first full-length, Tragedy. A masterful work based on Euripides' Hippolytus, it was an album filled with the sort of vocal layering and echo chamber work that would make Meredith Monk or Alexis O'Hara proud.

The prolific Holter has returned already with Ekstasis (named after the Greek philosophical conception of a state of being outside of onself), her first for the RVNG label, and a more

A Range of Sounds and Traditions Unite to Prove ‘there is no Other’

Through her banjo virtuosity and strong, clear vocals, Rhiannon Giddens has been continually excavating the African diaspora experience, especially that of the American South. On there is no Other, Giddens collaborates with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi to tell and retell stories of alienation and belonging. On these songs Giddens primarily plays a fingerpicked fretless minstrel banjo, while Turrisi plays a traditional frame drum and piano. The minstrel banjo and frame drum are

Album of the Day: Julia Kent, “Temporal”

In addition to her solo albums and numerous collaborations, renowned cellist and composer Julia Kent has composed a number of pieces for dance. It is in this experience of designing music specifically for movement that she takes inspiration for her latest album, Temporal. Kent was less inspired by the graceful movements of dance than the simultaneous vulnerability and strength of dancers’ bodies.

Kent’s previous solo record, Asperities, was conceived around the idea of polar opposites, and the

Album of the Day: Various Artists, “1+1=X”

With 10 full years of operation under their belt, Erased Tapes, the label known for their beautiful releases that often join contemporary composition with experimental electronics and ambient textures, has been celebrating for a full year, and 1+1=X is one of the fine results. While compilations are nothing new for Erased Tapes, this release is more of a collaboration than a simple collection of unrelated tracks. Contributing artists recorded their songs in Berlin’s analog Vox-Ton Studio, sharin

Album of the Day: Soft Hair, “Soft Hair”

Arguably, Soft Hair was formed in 2007 when Connan Mockasin and Sam Dust (LA Priest) performed at the same party. Both men were accused of stealing a decorative fiberglass pig belonging to the host, and what was at first animosity between them eventually became fertile ground for creative collaboration. The two recorded their self-titled debut in fits and starts between Dust’s apartment in Nottingham, England and Mockasin’s place in Wellington, New Zealand.

The resulting album is charmingly uno

Rumpus Sound Takes: Fierce, Feminist Beats

Not long ago synthpop was something of a boys’ club. The genre’s early days were dominated by male-fronted bands like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and The Pet Shop Boys. With the few exceptions, such as Annie Lennox with the The Eurythmics and Siouxsie Sioux with The Banshees, women were often relegated to less prominent roles. Take for example New Order’s Gillian Gilbert, just one of many women who didn’t front such an act. Yet, who can forget the cocktail waitresses of the Human League?

The past f
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