Sono Luminus Releases Composer Julian Brink’s Debut album Utility Music Worldwide
Sono Luminus Releases
Composer Julian Brink’s Debut album Utility Music
Worldwide Release Date: October 28, 2022
Review CDs and downloads available upon request.
Sono Luminus will release Utility Music, the debut album of South African, Los Angeles-based composer Julian Brink, on October 28, 2022. Utility Music features pieces composed by Brink and recorded by some of today’s leading instrumentalists. Much of the music on the album began as parts of a film score that Brink was writing. The film went unfinished but Brink revisited the music in 2020 during the pandemic, reworking it, re-recording it, and reimagining it until it took form as this new standalone album. The album features performances by several distinguished musicians, with the heart of the music being the string trio of Moldovan violin virtuoso Dan-Iulian Druțac; Nick Revel, violist of the Grammy-nominated PUBLIQuartet; and Joe Zeitlin who was the lead cellist on Mica Levi’s Oscar-nominated score for Pablo Lorraín’s Jackie.
Sono Luminus CEO Collin Rae says, “Julain’s music hit me hard the moment I started listening, I KNEW this beautiful album was one I wanted Sono Luminus to represent. I also knew this was going to be just the beginning of our collaborations!”
The title Utility Music is a reference to both the German phrase “gebrauchsmusik” –– music that was written not for its own sake but for a specific event or purpose –– as well as the expedient nature of the recording process. Performers being recorded individually is common practice in popular music but less so in the world of classical music. Utility Music was self-recorded during the summer of 2020 by Brink and the featured musicians – Matt Demerritt (woodwinds), Tyler Neidermayer (clarinet), Meredith Moore (horn), Joe Auckland (trumpet), Juliane Gralle (brass), Hanna Rabe (harp), Max Gaertner (vibraphone/percussion), Dan-Iulian Druțac (violin), Nick Revel (viola), Joe Zeitlin (cello), and Gabe Noel (bass) – in bedroom studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, Frankfurt, and Hamburg. In Brink's second bedroom in his West Hollywood apartment, he had only a few hours of quiet each day to record, between the dying down of street noise and the insects in the evening. Grammy-winning mix engineer Brian Losch was tasked with achieving the illusion of a group of musicians, performing together in a single space.
The additional instrumentation heard on the album was largely improvised on instruments, toy instruments and non-instruments alike. Inspired as much by John Cage and indeterminate music, as by an abundance of free time and the joy of experimenting with microphones, Utility Music is, at its core, an experiment in organizing sound.
Born in Johannesburg in 1989, Julian Brink first picked up his mother’s guitar at the age of ten and grew up playing in rock bands. He discovered a love of contemporary classical music through the films of Paolo Sorrentino and Paul Thomas Anderson. Hearing Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will be Blood, in particular, was what led him to pursue composition. Although he didn’t learn to read music until he was 19, while studying guitar at undergraduate level, he went on to complete a master's degree in film scoring through Berklee College of Music and relocated to California in 2015. Brink works in film music and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Maddie Hasson. His composer credits include the original scores for Amir Motlagh’s Three Worlds (2018) and No Longer Suitable for Use (2021), directed by Julian Joslin and produced by Sam Rockwell, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was featured in The New Yorker’s The Screening Room.
Julian Brink describes the inspiration and meanings behind each track on the album: Colombo/Green Fingers: When I first started writing music I was obsessed with Steve Reich and the idea that I could begin with the tiniest little thing and build on it. I wrote this music in a hotel room in Sri Lanka while my wife was filming there. I saved the project as “Colombo” and the title stuck. I thought the latter part was an appropriate description of my piano technique.
Miniatures: This was the first piece I recorded for this album. It was originally just for piano trio. I bought a toy piano intending to double the melody for a few bars. I then took it apart and recorded myself hitting the tines with a pencil, bowing them, I got a little carried away and discovered the music by accident. I recorded any instrument I could find lying around, an old blues harmonica and a broken antique zither.
Simple Trio I And Simple Trio II: I wrote these in 2016 while playing around with a new sample library. I was writing music with deliberately uncomplicated transitions between notes to make the samples sound more realistic. Dan, Nick and Joe are the heart of this album. I try to forget that they haven’t all met each other and aren't playing together in the same room.
Eventually Lapse: I'm always hesitant to use the guitar in my music because it's the only instrument I can actually play properly. I worry that I rely more on muscle memory than my ear and I don’t l want to write that way. I tried to think of it here as an addition to Hanna Rabe’s harp. Gabe Noel who played the jazz inspired bass lines has recorded with everyone from Miguel-Atwood Ferguson to Kendrick Lamar.
Albatross: This piece was largely improvised and for that reason probably my favorite one. Sometime during the making of this album I heard the 1966 recordings of John Cage and Morton Feldman talking about music and it had a big impact on me. I played what I had recorded to Nick and asked him to mute it and record his part independently. The folding pump organ I bought off Craigslist, it was made by AL White and Co. for US Army chaplains during WWI.
At Night: I feel very privileged to be able to work with Joe Zeitlin. He was the principal cellist on Mica Levi's score for Jackie. Once I'd finished recording all of my piano parts for the album he was the first musician I hired. He took my music so seriously. It really meant a lot to me.
Eastwood No.4: The name of the street I grew up on. I had recorded an idea on my old piano at home and my phone geotagged it as Eastwood No4. Matt Demerritt who played the woodwinds on this is mostly a jazz musician. I didn't know how to transcribe what I wanted for the flute so I went to his home studio in Venice Beach and explained it as we recorded.
Aura For M: I wanted to write something for violin to impress Dan who is a complete virtuoso. I soon realized what a bad idea that was and asked him to play on top of this instead. Something I wrote a couple of days after I met my wife to try and impress her. The metallic scraping sound is a safety pin being dragged across the piano strings with a microphone right up close.
Baptism In The Field: The clarinet quartet here was intended to mimic the sound of an organ. I wanted to make the rhythm ambiguous with the trumpet and the percussion. The low brass was inspired by a Maya Verlaak piece.
Pattern Shells: With all of this music recorded at home I abandoned the idea of it being perfect early on. I had to learn to like the messy sound of the keys, the squeaking and the missing notes. The idea of a melody on top of a static pattern like this, one or two notes changing at a time, was influenced by guitar music like Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Etude No.1. I got to hang out with Juliane Gralle and had a lot of fun experimenting with wild noises coming out of her instruments.
Julian Brink: Utility Music
Sono Luminus | Release date: October 28, 2022
1. Colombo/Green Fingers (3:40) Meredith Moore, french horn; Joe Auckland, trumpet; Dan-lulian Drutac, violin; Nick Revel, viola; Joe Zeitlin, cello; Gabe Noel, bass 2. Miniatures (4:08) Dan-lulian Drutac, violin; Nick Revel, viola; Joe Zeitlin, cello 3. Simple Trio (2:48) Dan-lulian Drutac, violin; Nick Revel, viola; Joe Zeitlin, cello
4. Eventually Lapse (4:21) Joe Auckland, trumpet; Hanna Rabe, harp; Dan-lulian Drutac, violin; Nick Revel, viola Joe Zeitlin, cello; Gabe Noel, bass 5. Albatross (3:00) Matt Demerritt, woodwinds; Nick Revel, viola; 6. At Night (2:31) Hanna Rabe, harp; Max Gaertner, vibraphone, percussion; Joe Zeitlin, cello
7. Eastwood No. 4 (5:08) Hanna Rabe, harp; Max Gaertner, vibraphone, percussion; Nick Revel, viola; Joe Zeitlin, cello
8. Simple Trio II (1:55) Dan-lulian Drutac, violin; Nick Revel, viola; Joe Zeitlin, cello 9. Aura for M (2:23) Hanna Rabe, harp; Dan-lulian Drutac, violin 10. Baptism in the Field (3:22) Matt Demerritt, woodwinds; Tyler Neidermayer, clarinet; Juliane Gralle, brass; Nick Revel, viola 11. Pattern Shells (3:02) Matt Demerritt, woodwinds; Hanna Rabe, harp; Dan-lulian Drutac, violin; Joe Zeitlin, cello Total Time: 36:18
Other Instruments, Julian Brink
Composed/Orchestrated/Produced/Engineered by Julian Brink
Recorded in bedrooms in Los Angeles, New York, London, Frankfurt and Hamburg
Additional recording by Matt Demerritt, Tyler Neidermayer, Meredith Moore, Joe Auckland, Juliane Gralle, Hanna Rabe, Max Gaertner, Dan-lulian Drutac, Nick Revel, Joe Zeitlin, Gabe Noel
Mixed by Brian Losch
Mastered by Daniel Shores
Photo of Julian Brink by Maddie Hasson