Golden Retriever round up an entire chamber orchestra for new album Rotations, effectively become the “world’s largest duo”

Golden Retriever round up an entire chamber orchestra for new album Rotations, effectively become the "world's largest duo"
Photo: Sarah Meadows

It’s a simple law of Free Enterprise, folks: growth is inevitable. And Portland, Oregon’s Golden Retriever — the greatest (and possibly only) modular synth and bass clarinet duo in the entire world — have already been pushing the boundaries of what is possible to achieve through the limitations of their instruments for almost a decade. So now, for their forthcoming album, Rotations — due July 28 on Thrill Jockey — Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff have decided it’s time to significantly expand upon their sonic palette with the incorporation of a full chamber ensemble (which, of course, you know means “piano, strings, wind instruments, percussion, synthesizer, and pipe organ”).

The orchestral collaboration — which features the Mousai Remix String Quartet (Erin Cole [violin], Shin-Young Kwon [violin], Jennifer Arnold [viola], and Marilyn De Oliveira [cello]), as well as Jen Harrison (french horn), Colin Frey (pipe organ), Catherine Lee (oboe), Matt Hannafin (percussion), David Coniglio (vibraphone), and John Savage (alto flute) — had its humble origins in a grant from the Portland Regional Arts and Culture Council, which in-turn lead to a series of live shows with the chamber orchestra back in October of 2015.

But being the rampant experimentalists they are, Golden Retriever then proceeded to take those humble origins and pump them into a whole new album, which its accompanying press release promises us is equal parts “meditative, lush, and emotionally arresting.” Specifically, Carlson and Sielaff began with “simple acoustic compositions, improvisations and fragmented ideas between bass clarinet and piano” before using them to “develop melodic and harmonic themes,” which they then transcribed into notation and added “layers of additional instruments,” until they were effectively “playing the ensemble as their instrument.” Ah! It all sounds so simple!

And now, in the continuing spirit of growth and Free Enterprise: You can pre-order the album on your choice of vinyl, CD, or download and stream the album’s tranquil, glistening, zen-like closer “Sunsight” down below. Get to it:

Rotations tracklisting:

01. Pelagic Tremor
02. A Kind of Leaving
03. Tessellation
04. Thirty-Six Stratagems
05. Thread of Light
06. Sunsight

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