Spektral Quartet, praised by The Strad for its “ear-tickling precision,” announces the August 28, 2020 release of Experiments in Living on New Focus Recordings. This double album, featuring two hours of music, celebrates the quartet’s 10th anniversary season in 2020-2021 and is the first all-Spektral album since their GRAMMY-nominated Serious Business (Sono Luminus, 2016). The concept of the programming represents a core tenet of the quartet’s philosophy as an ensemble – that divergent styles of music spanning centuries speak to one another in unexpected and captivating ways, and that the unfamiliar can rapidly become familiar in the right context.. Part One pursues three historic innovators and singular voices circumventing the entrenched rules of their time – Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg, and Ruth Crawford (Seeger) – while Part Two pitches through passageways of music motivated by improvisation, experimentation, and jazz by way of composers Anthony Cheung, Sam Pluta, Charmaine Lee, and George Lewis.
While the album can certainly be enjoyed in order from start to finish, the quartet believes that listeners, regardless of experience or expertise, are best suited to discover their own links between these tracks, and that this is most stimulating in user-generated “shuffle” mode of sorts. Having developed Tarot-style cards designed by Copenhagen-based collage artist and musician øjeRum (http://instagram.com/oejerum), the quartet has created an innovative, self-guided, “choose your own adventure” approach to experiencing the album. For each of the 20 tracks there is a corresponding card. The cards can be shuffled and turned over in a random order to reveal a unique playlist, inviting the listener to listen deeply, reflect on connections, and then choose descriptive, text-based “bridge” cards to link the tracks in their playlist.
The quartet collectively states, “Like the concept proffered by John Stuart Mill from which the album takes its title, the ‘freedom’ found within these ‘experiments in living’ is a result of making choices without blind acceptance for the way things are or have been.” More information about the album is available here: www.spektralquartet.com/experiments-in-living
Leading up to the August 28 release date, Spektral Quartet will host five online events associated with the album, including three editions of The Floating Lounge with guests Sam Pluta (July 29); Anthony Cheung and flutist Claire Chase (August 12); and soprano Lucy Shelton featuring works of Arnold Schoenberg (August 23). The Floating Lounge is a community-focused, online listening series produced by Spektral Quartet to bring curious listeners together during a time of isolation. Events feature high-quality streaming audio, special guests, and an interactive format that invites listeners to join in on the conversation.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the album, on August 5 Spektral Quartet presents audio engineer Dan Nichols in “From Raw to Refined: How a Recording Comes to Life in Real Time” and on August 28, the quartet will host an album release listening party event in which they will unveil and demonstrate the produced card decks. Complete event schedule and registration links are available at www.spektralquartet.com/concerts
Experiments in Living Tarot-style cards with original artwork by øjeRum: