Featuring: Carla Kihlstedt (Voice, Violin), Ben Goldberg (Clarinet), Ron Miles (Trumpet), Rob Sudduth (Tenor Saxophone), Myra Melford (Piano), Nels Cline (Guitar), Kenny Wollesen (Vibraphone, Chimes), Greg Cohen (Bass), Ches Smith (Drums)
“Goldberg has created a brilliant homage to Grossman with this sequence of musical settings of his teacher’s witty thoughts on poetics” – Downbeat
“…a suite of beautiful, intricate and strangely compelling songs, lit up by improvisations flavored with muted trumpet, distorted electric guitar and many other colors..artfully orchestrated with horn chorales and counterpoint” – SF Chronicle
“Combining deft improvisation, accessible melodies and deceptively complex compositions, this is an album that rewards both cursory and in-depth listening.” – Elmore Magazine
On his new album, Orphic Machine, clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg creates his most beautiful and lyrical music to date. Goldberg’s songs, brought to exquisite life by vocalist Carla Kihlstedt, derive lyrics from an unlikely source: not poetry, but a book on “speculative poetics” by Goldberg’s former professor and MacArthur Fellow Allen Grossman.
Three years in the making, this is Goldberg’s most ambitious project, featuring his closest collaborators: Kihlstedt, his bandmate in Tin Hat; guitarist Nels Cline of Wilco, saxophonist Rob Sudduth and drummer Ches Smith, who all play in Goldberg’s quintet Unfold Ordinary Mind; trumpeter Ron Miles; pianist Myra Melford; bassist Greg Cohen; and vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen, from Goldberg’s ground-breaking New Klezmer Trio.
Perhaps the most important relationship on Orphic Machine is not an expressly musical one, but a meeting of minds. Goldberg relates:
“Chamber Music America commissioned something based upon Grossman’s Summa Lyrica, a book of knotty aphorisms about poetry and consciousness. I got stuck, in that useful way that opens up new possibility: I saw I had to let the aphorisms work directly on the music, as lyrics. The craziness of the idea – not a book of poems, but statements about poetry – writing about writing – really got me going.”
Orphic Machine, the most ambitious and evocative work of Goldberg’s career, is also within the evolution of his courageously experimental music, from 1992, when New Klezmer Trio “kicked open the door for radical experiments with Ashkenazi roots music” (San Francisco Chronicle), to 2013’s Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and Unfold Ordinary Mind, which the New York Times noted for “a feeling of joyous research into the basics of polyphony and collective improvising,”
With gorgeous melodies, unstoppable grooves, and lush sonic feel, Orphic Machine will appeal to pop music fans as well as devotees of new and experimental music.