“Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part” by Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, now available on Nonesuch


“Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part” by Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, now available on Nonesuch

Let the soil play its simple role, an album of songs written and performed by Caroline shaw and Sō Percussion, is now available on Nonesuch Records, available everywhere here, including on transparent vinyl. The musicians, who have known each other from their student years, were given three days of free studio time and decided to experiment with ideas they had started recording during the sessions of their Nonesuch release in January 2021. Narrow sea. With Shaw on vocals and Sō — Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting — completing this new band, they developed songs in the studio, with lyrics inspired by their own interests: James Joyce, the Sacred harp hymnal book, a poem by Anne Carson, the Bible’s Book of Ruth, the American roots song “I’ll Fly Away” and ABBA’s pop perfection, among others. The album is co-produced by Shaw, Sō Percussion and Grammy Award-winning engineer Jonathan Low (The National, Taylor Swift).

To coincide with the album’s release, the artists released a video of them performing their version of ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love on Me,” a track from the new album. The video, directed by Maureen Towey and shot in Bok, Philadelphia, features additional voices from Beth Meyers and Yeji Cha-Beach; you can watch it here:

Shaw, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his vocal composition Partita for 8 voices, written for and performed with Roomful of Teeth, makes her solo debut with Let the soil play its simple role.

The first track on the album, “To the Sky”, is taken from Sacred harp and takes his words from Anne Steele. “I love songs about death, coming home and looking to a better or brighter time, which if there is one thing in the world to think about, maybe it is the thing,” Shaw said. “This one, I particularly like. There is a line, ‘Slender consolation of an hour / Soon our transient comforts fly / And the pleasure blossoms to die.’ It’s a meditation on the ephemeral, and I love it.

“I hadn’t written a lot of songs, but I certainly liked a lot in my life. I’ve been thinking about doing a solo album for the last seven or eight years, but you have to have the right friends and the right community in the room, ”says Shaw. “The prompt for all of us was, what would we do in the room with nobody in charge, like a band writing in the studio? “

Cha-Beach remembers the first attempt made during the Narrow sea session: “There was that feeling of catching lightning in a bottle. When the opportunity to spend three days at their friends’ studio, Guilford Sound, presented itself, the five musicians took to Vermont with engineer / co-producer Jonathan Low. “Jon is an amazing editor,” says Cha-Beach, “He’s so helpful to think about, ‘We have these ideas: how do we cut them down and make them show up on an album? “”

One of those ideas was for Shaw to do a duet with each member of Sō. She sings with Josh Quillen on steel drums on the title song, which she wrote in less than an hour in a “free writing area, very inspired by James Joyce, taking over that brain space” , she says. Lyrically, the song is “tied to math songs that I love, but also to the memory and love songs of someone who’s gone or died, or with whom you’re not.” more: what is the sound of this kind of devastation or confusion? or love? They only recorded the song twice, and the first take is on the album. “It’s very sober. The game is very Josh; it’s so sensitive, ”says Shaw.

Adam Sliwinski’s marimba duet with Shaw is an interpretation of ABBA’s song “Lay All Your Love on Me”. She explains: “It’s really a Bach chorale. Also, the idea of ​​someone singing “Won’t waste your emotion / Lay all your love on me / Won’t share your devotion / Lay all your love on me” over and over again very slowly there is some tragedy in it. And then Adam made some absolutely exquisite overlays that built this beautiful world out of the marimba. “

Jason Treuting on drums joined Shaw for “Long Ago We Counted”. She suggested, “Why don’t we start with the voice and the kit having a weird conversation, kind of like two babies talking to each other?” And then we’ve built this loop, and we go from that totally uncomfortable and absurd place to something rich and rolling and satisfying. For “Some Bright Morning,” the duet with Cha-Beach – who here play electronics, piano and Hammond organ – Shaw was inspired by a 12th century liturgical hymn she had sung regularly. at church during his college days: “Salve Regina”.

“Some songs on Let the ground … were very specifically composed by Caroline, ”says Cha-Beach. “But others were this assemblage of ideas: finding words, an idea of ​​how a melody might work, a harmony, then toss it in a blender and trust yourself.” Shaw adds, “What I love about Sō is the curiosity about how objects make sounds and how they speak to each other. [There was an] the common thread of thinking about what goes into the soil, how we take care of it, how we allow it to be itself, how we contain it and what can come out of it if you cultivate the right environment, which for me is still this wonderful metaphor for creativity and collaboration: let people be themselves and see what happens, ”she concludes.

Caroline Shaw is a New York-based musician – singer, violinist, composer and producer – who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2013 for Partita for 8 voices, written for Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Shaw’s film scores include that of Erica Fae To keep the light and Joséphine Decker Madeline from Madeline as well as the next short film 8th year of emergency by Maureen Towey. Hailed for “blowing the worlds of pop and classical music” (Guardian), she produced for Kanye West (Pablo’s life; you) and Nas (NASIR), and has contributed to records for The National and Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire. Shaw currently teaches at NYU and is a Creative Associate at the Juilliard School. His album Nonesuch / New Amsterdam 2019 with Attacca Quartet, Orange, won a Grammy Award.

Through his interpretations of modern classics, his innovative multi-genre original productions and his “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and heckling” (New Yorker), Sō Percussion redefined the scope and role of the modern percussion ensemble. Sō’s repertoire spans the twentieth-century works of John Cage, Steve reich, and Iannis Xenakis, commissioning and defending works by contemporary composers such as David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Steven Mackey, to collaborations with artists who work outside the classical concert hall, including Shara Nova, the choreographer Susan Marshall, The National, Bryce Dessner, and many more. Sō has recorded more than twenty albums, including an interpretation of Reich Mallet Quartet on the Nonesuch folder WTC September 11; has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Hall, Barbican, Eaux Claires Festival, MassMoCA and TED 2016; and performed with Jad Abumrad, JACK Quartet, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and LA Phil and Gustavo Dudamel, among others.

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