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Dawn Upshaw|Caroline Shaw : Narrow Sea

Caroline Shaw : Narrow Sea

Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish, Sō Percussion

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The wide variety of ways one could refer to Caroline Shaw shows what a unique talent she is: Pulitzer Prize winner, vocalist, violinist, frequent Kanye West collaborator, and composer for cello, piano, voice, string quartet, viola, orchestra, and flower pots. Shaw's thick resume belies the relative brevity of her tenure so far on this planet (she's only 38), but over the last decade or so, she has piled a stunning variety of artistic successes upon one another. Such range, however, is not indicative of any sort of dilettantism in her approach to the work, which is consistently serious, thoughtful, well-researched, and inventive. And even though her work with Kanye may have gotten her some attention in some surprising circles, it was the success of 2019's Orange, which featured six of her string quartet pieces performed by Attacca Quartet, that brought her work a much wider audience. That extraordinary effort showcased her rigorous and uncompromising approach to composition, and was likely one of the most daring classical albums to crack the public consciousness in years. Now, she follows it up with an even more challenging and rewarding work. Narrow Sea is a short album—the five-part titular composition clocks in at just under 20 minutes, and the additional piece here, "Taxidermy," is less than 10—but it is rich with ideas. Composed for voice, piano, and percussion, Narrow Sea is both ethereal and earthy, and the spacious and expansive tangle of sounds benefits from the humanity of Dawn Upshaw's soprano, the complex and varied textures of Sō Percussion's instrumentation, and the gentle melodic anchors of Gil Kalish's piano. Shaw's facility at composing for voice is radiantly clear in Upshaw's mournful, searching interpretations of these spiritual lyrics (inspired by a text of 19th century hymns called The Sacred Harp), while her more exploratory tendencies are borne out wonderfully by the Brooklyn-based Sō Percussion crew, which works with everything from flowing water and insistent humming to Shaw's beloved flower pots. While the bulk of Narrow Sea is quite percussive, it's not an overtly rhythmic composition (aside from the heartbeat rhythm that sits a bit off-tempo during "Part 1"), depending instead on Kalish's piano work to anchor it. Album closer "Taxidermy" is densely rhythmic, with gamelan-esque marimbas and clanging flower pots underlying a thicket of vocal phrasings; it's a sharp contrast to the rest of the work, but stands as more invigorating evidence of Shaw's incredible abilities. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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Caroline Shaw : Narrow Sea

Dawn Upshaw

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1
Narrow Sea, Pt. 1
Dawn Upshaw
00:03:28

Dawn Upshaw, Vocals - Gilbert Kalish, Piano - Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting), Drums, Vibraphone, Marimba - Caroline Shaw, Composer, Producer - Jon Low, Engineer - Eric Cha-Beach, Producer

© 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc.

2
Narrow Sea, Pt. 2
Dawn Upshaw
00:03:28

Dawn Upshaw, Vocals - Gilbert Kalish, Piano - Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting), Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Synthesizer - Caroline Shaw, Composer, Producer - Jon Low, Engineer - Eric Cha-Beach, Producer

© 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2020 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc.

3
Narrow Sea, Pt. 3
Dawn Upshaw
00:04:57

Dawn Upshaw, Vocals - Gilbert Kalish, Piano - Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting), Percussion - Caroline Shaw, Composer, Producer - Jon Low, Engineer - Eric Cha-Beach, Producer

© 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc.

4
Narrow Sea, Pt. 4
Dawn Upshaw
00:04:50

Dawn Upshaw, Percussion, Vocals - Gilbert Kalish, Piano - Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting), Percussion - Caroline Shaw, Composer, Producer - Jon Low, Engineer - Eric Cha-Beach, Producer

© 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc.

5
Narrow Sea, Pt. 5
Dawn Upshaw
00:02:42

Dawn Upshaw, Vocals - Gilbert Kalish, Piano - Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting), Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone, Marimba - Caroline Shaw, Composer, Producer - Jon Low, Engineer - Eric Cha-Beach, Producer

© 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc.

6
Taxidermy
So Percussion
00:08:57

Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting), Drums, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Vibraphone, Vocals, Marimba - Caroline Shaw, Composer, Producer, Organ - Jon Low, Engineer - Eric Cha-Beach, Producer

© 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2021 Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc.

Album Description

The wide variety of ways one could refer to Caroline Shaw shows what a unique talent she is: Pulitzer Prize winner, vocalist, violinist, frequent Kanye West collaborator, and composer for cello, piano, voice, string quartet, viola, orchestra, and flower pots. Shaw's thick resume belies the relative brevity of her tenure so far on this planet (she's only 38), but over the last decade or so, she has piled a stunning variety of artistic successes upon one another. Such range, however, is not indicative of any sort of dilettantism in her approach to the work, which is consistently serious, thoughtful, well-researched, and inventive. And even though her work with Kanye may have gotten her some attention in some surprising circles, it was the success of 2019's Orange, which featured six of her string quartet pieces performed by Attacca Quartet, that brought her work a much wider audience. That extraordinary effort showcased her rigorous and uncompromising approach to composition, and was likely one of the most daring classical albums to crack the public consciousness in years. Now, she follows it up with an even more challenging and rewarding work. Narrow Sea is a short album—the five-part titular composition clocks in at just under 20 minutes, and the additional piece here, "Taxidermy," is less than 10—but it is rich with ideas. Composed for voice, piano, and percussion, Narrow Sea is both ethereal and earthy, and the spacious and expansive tangle of sounds benefits from the humanity of Dawn Upshaw's soprano, the complex and varied textures of Sō Percussion's instrumentation, and the gentle melodic anchors of Gil Kalish's piano. Shaw's facility at composing for voice is radiantly clear in Upshaw's mournful, searching interpretations of these spiritual lyrics (inspired by a text of 19th century hymns called The Sacred Harp), while her more exploratory tendencies are borne out wonderfully by the Brooklyn-based Sō Percussion crew, which works with everything from flowing water and insistent humming to Shaw's beloved flower pots. While the bulk of Narrow Sea is quite percussive, it's not an overtly rhythmic composition (aside from the heartbeat rhythm that sits a bit off-tempo during "Part 1"), depending instead on Kalish's piano work to anchor it. Album closer "Taxidermy" is densely rhythmic, with gamelan-esque marimbas and clanging flower pots underlying a thicket of vocal phrasings; it's a sharp contrast to the rest of the work, but stands as more invigorating evidence of Shaw's incredible abilities. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

Details of original recording : Recorded at Guilford Sound, Vermont (UK), June 14-16, 2018

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