Sep 152017
 

ben cosgrove salt

Artist residencies have been around for decades. A musician or painter or filmmaker will set up shop in a new place for a limited period of time. Most of those places, understandably, tend to be on land.

The Vermont pianist and composer Ben Cosgrove has never taken obvious paths though, and last fall he did his work sailing from Vietnam to Australia on the massive research vessel Falkor. While onboard, he wrote and recorded songs inspired by his aquatic surroundings, some of which appear on his new record Salt. “It was my first time at sea, and I was deeply fascinated by the way one has to orient oneself in a place like that,” he says now. “I’d never been anywhere that simultaneously felt so still and so in motion.” Continue reading »

Jan 232017
 

Many musicians aspire to blend the old and the new, but few do so as dramatically as Alexander Vitzthum. What he considers the “old” on his upcoming album is not ’60s soul or ’50s beach-pop. He went centuries further back, to the monks’ vocal tradition of Gregorian Chant. And for the “new” side of the equation, he used the latest in electronics: vocoders, samples, computer effects.

It makes for a wild and surprising combination, hearing Gregorian chanting sounding like if Aphex Twin joined a monastery. Vitzthum has released one song so far in what he calls The Electric Requiem, his version of the traditional “Requiem Aeternam (Introit),” and promises more to come.

“I had this concept of mixing the classical music I studied in school with the electronic music that I’ve come to love since graduating,” he tells us. “These two things haven’t been blended before as far as I know, and so I wanted to push the idea further with this piece – the idea of combining the oldest western music we have with the newest. It’s set up as a call-and-response between the solo voice (cantus firmus) and the vocoder ensemble with some musical ideas interspersed. I sampled myself singing the traditional hymn tones, then added the vocoder and effects.” Continue reading »