Alarm Will Sound announces new album, shares best cover of worst Beatles song ;)

Alarm Will Sound announces new album, shares best cover of worst Beatles song ;)

Ah, “Modernism.” What a word. Not unlike “avant-garde,” it’s a pretty revered and awe-inspiring term within the Arts and Humanities. Everyone respects Modernism, especially in polite company, but at the end of the day, c’mon… do any of us really like the shit?

Well, thanks to the latest efforts of “acclaimed 23-piece ensemble” Alarm-Will-Sound, we JUST MIGHT now.

And by “now,” I guess I actually mean April 29. That’s when Cantaloupe Music is releasing Modernists, the newest album by the hip and adventurous contemporary music outfit that will hopefully change our minds forever about what does and doesn’t qualify as “listenable” music. Case in point: the first track that they’re sharing from the record is none other than “a rousing cover of The Beatles’ landmark experimental composition ‘Revolution 9’ (which you can listen to for free right now over here),” arranged specifically for the group by Matt Marks.

In addition to opening the album with this fully-orchestrated take on John Lennon’s penultimate and, some might say, White Album-ruining “tape piece,” the ensemble also closes the record with Edgard Varèse’s “Poème électronique” (specially arranged for the ensemble by Evan Hause). In between, artistic director Alan Pierson helps pilot the group through several new works written for AWS by the likes of Wolfgang Rihm, Charles Wuorinen, AWS pianist John Orfe, and Augusta Read Thomas (whose “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour” also features vocals by Kirsten Sollek and Caleb Burhans). “This album includes some of my favorite music that’s been written for Alarm Will Sound,” says Pierson. “This is music that we’ve taken great joy in playing, and I’m thrilled to have it headed out into the world.” But in case you’re still sketchy on how awesome this might actually turn out to be, here’s some more encouragement from the liner notes:

Modernism scares people. Is it because it’s new? That can’t be the whole explanation because everybody likes to discover new things, right? Maybe it’s the amount of newness. While discovery always involves a degree of unfamiliarity, modernism can drive really far into unfamiliar territory, becoming distant from any known landmarks. So much unfamiliarity can be scary.

It can even be alienating. The unpopularity of “Revolution 9” (by one of the world’s most popular bands) is the evidence that the Beatles’ experimentation with found sound, tape loops, and studio technology pushed their fans away. Revolution 9 is modernist because it is a song that’s not a song, something so unfamiliar that it not only breaks with the past, but also breaks its own category.

Varèse’s “Poème électronique” must have also seemed like a categorical contradiction: poetry created on machines?! The piece—no less than its title—expresses his modernist zeal through never-had-a-past electronic sounds. ‘The world is changing, and we change with it. The more we allow our minds the romantic luxury of treasuring the past in memory, the less able we become to face the future and determine the new values in it.’

Welp. You heard Varèse, folks. Lets get our heads out of the sand, stop all this irrational fear of “modernist” music, quit livin’ in the PAST, and start LOOKING FORWARD to this record’s release so that we can all have a slightly less-miserable future. At least we’ll all die a little classier. Who’s with me?

Modernists tracklisting:

01. Revolution 9 [The Beatles, arr. Matt Marks)
02. Big Spinoff [Charles Wuorinen]
03. Will Sound [Wolfgang Rihm]
04. Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour [Augusta Read Thomas]
05. Journeyman [John Orfe]
06. Poéme Électronique [Edgard Varèse, arr. Evan Hause]

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