Yarn/Wire to Release Two New Albums in September – TONBAND, and THE MUSIC OF ANNEA LOCKWOOD

Yarn/Wire is a New York-based percussion and piano quartet dedicated to the promotion of creative, experimental new music.

By: Jul. 27, 2021
Yarn/Wire to Release Two New Albums in September – TONBAND, and THE MUSIC OF ANNEA LOCKWOOD

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the percussion and piano quartet Yarn/Wire will release two albums: Tonband, world premiere recordings of music by Enno Poppe and Wolfgang Heiniger out digitally on WERGO Records, and legendary sound artist and experimental composer Annea Lockwood's Becoming Air featuring trumpeter Nate Wooley and Into the Vanishing Point, out on digital and LP on Black Truffle Records.

Of the two albums, percussionist Russell Greenberg explains, "Tonband and Becoming Air / Into the Vanishing Point represent two vastly different ways of making music for Yarn/Wire. Tonband represents the extreme possibilities of virtuosic chamber music in a traditional 'contemporary-classical' sense: traditional instruments and tunings, notated parts with published scores, and the usual relationship between composer and performer. On the other hand, the pieces on Becoming Air / Into the Vanishing Point represent an alternate contemporary musical practice. Both works on the LP deal with a radical recontextualization of the performer/composer relationship, whether Nate Wooley or Yarn/Wire - there are no notated scores (the pieces were produced through an oral tradition); instruments and techniques bordered on the experimental.

"However, while the ways that the music was composed and produced on the two records might be different, our approach as an ensemble in terms of how we rehearsed and interpreted the music was nearly identical and our performance practice remained intact. Regardless of the way the music was transmitted to us by the composers, we still approached each work with open ears, the desire to find the 'right' meaningful sounds and narratives within each work, and amplify the depth and power within each (which is substantial). Lastly, we worked to communicate to each other as musicians to navigate these different landscapes, and make sure we each could give our maximum artistry to each.

"Another similarity I find interesting about the two records is that they are also both documents of collaborations. In Tonband, the title track was co-composed by Enno Poppe and Wolfgang Heiniger - the result of a long and close friendship, while the other two works showcase each composer individually. For Becoming Air / Into the Vanishing Point, both works were co-written with Annea Lockwood and their respective performers. Both albums were artistically challenging for us as musicians, and stretched us into new places. In a way, I feel that they both represent pinnacles of two styles of music making that Yarn/Wire has been exploring since the project began over 15 years ago."

Tonband, recorded at EMPAC, is an album of world premiere recordings delivering a soundworld unlike anything heard before. It opens with Enno Poppe's Feld, a stunning tour-de-force of virtuosity that pushes individual skill and ensemble coordination to its limit. A work of juxtapositions, the pitched and percussive alternate between horizontal melodies and vertical attacks to suggest a beautiful vista full of unexpected jagged protrusions. "Feld is without question the most challenging piece we've ever played" says Greenberg. Watch the Yarn/Wire Feedback Episode about Feld: https://youtu.be/miKyGSAa8xE

The title track Tonband is a five-movement, 30 minute piece from 2008, co-composed by Enno Poppe (German) and Wolfgang Heiniger (Swiss) together. In Tonband, meaning "tape" as in tape-recorder, the acoustic sounds played by the percussionists are filtered, transformed, and distorted in real-time to become otherworldly and unnatural. These sound manipulations are controlled live by the pianists on two full-size MIDI keyboards, with each key activating a different process for nearly limitless possibilities. The percussionists generate all of the acoustic sounds in the piece, which are then passed through the keyboards as the pianists twist and alter them, all in the same instant.

Neumond (New Moon) was written specifically for this album by Wolfgang Heiniger as a bridge piece between Feld and Tonband. The sound world recalls the dark aesthetic of horror films from the 1950s-60s, reminiscent of Oskar Sala and Jean Guillou. "I like melodies and I think you can tell," says Wolfgang Heiniger. Watch the Yarn/Wire Feedback Episode about Tonband and Neumond: https://youtu.be/2aD80UTQZcY

Annea Lockwood's Becoming Air (2018), developed with and performed by trumpeter Nate Wooley, uses extended technique and electronics to interfere with Wooley's virtuosic control over his instrument, pushing him into areas of fluctuating pitch and timbral instability. Motivated by a desire for "the letting go of sound to be itself," Becoming Air unfolds as a series of texturally distinct moments separated by pauses, each fixing on a particular approach to the instrument (long tones, upper-register whistles, breathy wooshes) and maintaining it in an essentially static fashion, focussing our attention on subtle changes and variations. Dipping into near-inaudibility in the fragile high tones of its opening section, the piece dramatically increases in volume and intensity in its final third, climaxing with a passage of roaring distortion, where the interaction between feedback and trumpet pitches calls up the shuddering interference effects of Robert Ashley's Wolfman.

Into the Vanishing Point (2019) is a collaborative work by Lockwood and Yarn/Wire inspired by a devastating news article on the global collapse of insect populations. Lockwood mapped out a loose structure for the piece that would allow the composer and four performers to explore their "feelings about what is happening ecologically." Working with a huge variety of instruments, objects and techniques of sound production, the resulting work is an alluringly lush, organically unfolding combination of unorthodox textures and haunting tones. Though not intended to sonically represent ecological issues in any direct way, its unique sound world of rubbed piano strings, gently handled objects and chiming pitches often calls up natural images: of insects and frogs, wind rushing through trees, a bird's wings in flight. Watch the Yarn/Wire Feedback Episode about Into the Vanishing Point: https://youtu.be/7xC7jUN8CvQ

About Yarn/Wire:

Yarn/Wire is a New York-based percussion and piano quartet (Sae Hashimoto and Russell Greenberg, percussion; Laura Barger and Ning Yu, pianos) dedicated to the promotion of creative, experimental new music. Pianist Julia Den Boer will join as guest artist for the 2021-2022 season. Described by The Brooklyn Rail as "fascinating and exciting, with playing that is precise and full of purpose," the ensemble is admired globally for the energy and precision it brings to performances of today's most adventurous compositions. Founded in 2005, the ensemble seeks to expand the representation of composers including but not limited to those who identify as women, LGBTQIA+, Black, African, Indigenous, Latina(o)(x), Asian, or Arab so that it might begin to better reflect our communities and experience new creative potential.

Upcoming and recent performance highlights include the Time Spans Festival; a residency at Brooklyn's Pioneer Works featuring Katherine Young's Biomes; premieres by Taylor Brook and Diana Rodriguez at the America's Society in New York City; a video event and Composer Portrait of Thomas Meadowcroft presented by Miller Theatre; a performance of solo works at Indexical in Santa Cruz; and the continuation of the Yarn/Wire International Institute and Festival, a summer festival for composers and performers interested in exploring the collaborative side of contemporary music.

Yarn/Wire will also be in residence at Cornell University, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, Brandeis University, Duke University, and University of Pennsylvania in the 2021-2022 season. Through the Yarn/Wire International Institute and Festival and other educational residencies and outreach programs, Yarn/Wire works to promote not only the present but also the future of new music in the United States. Their ongoing commissioning series, Yarn/Wire/Currents, serves as an incubator for new experimental music in partnership with Brooklyn-based arts organization Blank Forms.

In fall 2022, Yarn/Wire continues their multi-year residency at Girard College developing a new multidisciplinary performance work, Be Holding, using poet Ross Gay's book-length poem inspired by Philadelphia basketball champion Julius Erving (a.k.a. "Dr. J") as its libretto. The commission will explore themes of Black genius and beauty in the face of racial violence and inequities and the school will host Gay, composer Tyshawn Sorey, director Brooke O'Harra, and Yarn/Wire, with the premiere scheduled for Spring 2023.

Yarn/Wire's numerous commissions include works from composers such as Enno Poppe, Michael Gordon, George Lewis, Ann Cleare, Raphaël Cendo, Peter Evans, Alex Mincek, Thomas Meadowcroft, Misato Mochizuki, Tristan Murail, Sam Pluta, Tyondai Braxton, Kate Soper, and Øyvind Torvund. The ensemble enjoys collaborations with genre-bending artists such as Tristan Perich, Ben Vida, Mark Fell, Sufjan Stevens, and Pete Swanson.

Yarn/Wire appears internationally at prominent festivals and venues including the Lincoln Center Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall, Rainy Days Festival (Luxembourg), Ultima Festival (Norway), Transit Festival (Belgium), Dublin SoundLab, Monday Evening Concerts (Los Angeles), Contempuls Festival (Prague), Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York's Miller Theatre at Columbia University, River-to-River Festival, La MaMa Theatre, Festival of New American Music, and London's Barbican Centre.

Yarn/Wire has recorded for the WERGO, Northern Spy, Distributed Objects, Black Truffle, Populist, and Carrier record labels in addition to maintaining their own imprint. Recent and upcoming releases include Tonband, featuring works by Enno Poppe and Wolfgang Heiniger, on the WERGO label; Annea Lockwood's Becoming Air and Into the Vanishing with trumpeter Nate Wooley on Black Truffle Records; Yarn/Wire Currents 7 featuring works by Victoria Cheah, Zeno Baldi, and Diana Rodriguez; Marcel Zaes' Parallel Prints; the piano and percussion works of Andrew McIntosh; and many more. For more information, visit www.yarnwire.org