Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Year in Review: 2015


Cuneiform Records' Year in Review:
A List of Cuneiform's 2015 releases


Dear friends in music;

Thanksgiving Day, a major national holiday in North America, is celebrated in the USA this year on Thursday, Nov. 26th, 2015.

On this special day, we gather friends and family and share a traditional feast, based on the season’s harvest, in gratitude for our blessings. Many Americans’ consider it their favorite national holiday because, unlike most others, Thanksgiving embraces universals – our shared humanity and our gratitude for the earth’s bounty – and avoids focusing on any specific religion, or on any political or social cause.  Thanksgiving is the holiday on which ALL of us are grateful for whatever is in our glasses, on our plates, on our turntables, in our lives and, above all, in our hearts. It is a day to concentrate on and give thanks for all that is good; a day to reflect on how lucky we are to be sentient beings, alive on this strange yet wondrous planet.

On Thanksgiving 2015, Cuneiform expresses gratitude for surviving over the past 31 years ‘inside’ the music business, despite being a record label devoted to releasing music ‘outside’ the mainstream. We’ve been blessed to exist, and to work with such wonderful artists, employees, music biz colleagues, radio and press associates, and devoted fans from all around the world. We thank ALL of you for your support over the past decades, and for helping us in recent years to navigate the music industry’s changing, challenging times. It has been a joy working together with you, and we look forward to continuing to work with you for decades to come.

We are especially thankful to and grateful for our artists, key members of our Cuneiform "family". Cuneiform has been blessed to work with and release music by some of the most creative, innovative and truly great musicians in the world.

While we express gratitude on this Thanksgiving for the goodness in the world, we are well aware that suffering, terror and evil also exist on this planet. World events in recent weeks have left us horrified. We were devastated, heartbroken by the Paris attacks of Nov.13th, and we send our condolences, love and strength to all in the great "City of Light".  We also send love and strength to other places impacted by terror or by political conflict this November; where life’s goodness is currently overshadowed by turmoil.

On this Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our common humanity. By cherishing the goodness in each of our hearts and in each other, goodness will flourish and banish the dark.

With thanks;
Joyce, Director of Publicity and Promo
for the Cuneiform Records Team

visit us online:
www.cuneiformrecords.com
www.twitter.com/cuneiformrecord
www.facebook.com/cuneiformrecords

for live shows by these " other Cuneiform artists, see Cuneiform's Tours page.

--

Cuneiform's Year in Review: 2015

Jazz and Beyond: New Recordings



Raoul Björkenheim / eCsTaSy
Out of the Blue
Genre: Jazz / Improv
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 10/16/2015


Ecstasy is usually an all too fleeting experience offering the briefest glimpse at transcendence. But a heightened sense of consciousness and discovery manifests throughout Out of the Blue, the transporting second album by composer and guitar maestro Raoul Björkenheim and his extraordinary Finnish quartet, eCsTaSy. Featuring the celebrated drummer Markku Ounaskari, the young and dauntingly prolific bassist Jori Huhtala and saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen, eCsTaSy has forged more than a signature sound. Over the course of five years the musicians have honed a supremely interactive modus operandi marked by unstable textures, rapidly shifting meters, and emotionally charged melodic flights. Earthy, pristine and unmistakably Nordic, the music evokes the grandeur of Finnish landscapes and the hothouse intimacy of a tight-knit Helsinki scene where the musicians regularly convene to refine their volatile sound.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Uptown"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - cuneiform


Michael Gibbs and the NDR Bigband
Play A Bill Frisell Set List
Genre: Jazz / Big Band / Guitar / Modern Big Band
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 6/9/2015

"So much came from my association with Mike... He went from being my hero to a friend… I’ve always fantasized about doing something with him adapting some of my music."
Bill Frisell

The dauntingly prolific Bill Frisell has recorded in a vast array of settings, but he’s never made an album like Play a Bill Frisell Set List, his first-ever appearance as the featured soloist on a big band session. Captured live in concert with one of the world’s great jazz orchestras, NDR Bigband, the guitarist delivers a tour de force performance exploring sleek, spacious and vividly expressive arrangements of compositions drawn from throughout his career designed specifically for him and the NDR (with guest Jeff Ballard) by Michael Gibbs. "…the music was magical," Gibbs says. "I couldn’t resist the opportunity to release it." 

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"On The Lookout /Far Away"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
Gibbs official - Frisell official - cuneiform


Michael Gibbs and the NDR Bigband
In My View
Genre: Jazz / Big Band /
Modern Big Band
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 6/9/2015

"Gibbs' ingenious arrangements suggest a pop art incarnation of a traditional big band...and for all its mind-expanding consciousness, the music speaks to the body as loudly as it does the intellect."
All Music

While studded with treasured recordings reflecting his singular writing skills, Michael Gibbs’ slim discography has never kept pace with the breadth and depth of his creative output. In a career spanning more than half a century he’s collaborated with a dazzling array of artists in jazz and beyond, including Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, Joni Mitchell, John Scofield, Gary Burton, Whitney Houston, Peter Gabriel, and Richard Galliano. Gibbs has honed a subtle and highly personal approach to arranging and composition, both beautifully showcased here and wonderfully performed by the renowned NDR Bigband.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"‘Tis As It Should Be"
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - cuneiform


Henry Kaiser and Ray Russell
The Celestial Squid
Genre: Jazz / Avant-Jazz / Improv
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 2/3/2015

Guitar summits don't ascend higher than when legendary British free-jazz pioneer and longtime session ace Ray Russell meets the brilliant California avant-improv overachiever and Antarctic diver Henry Kaiser in the realm of The Celestial Squid. An album as cosmically evocative as its title, The Celestial Squid marks both a promising new partnership and a return to the outer-limits sensibility that informed Russell's earliest work. With sixteen albums as a leader and more than countless session performances to his credit, including the early James Bond film scores, Russell is returning to his bone-rattling, noise-rocking roots for the first time since 1971. You'll be shaken and stirred as Kaiser, Russell, and eight super friends deliver a no-holds-barred, free-range sonic cage match. They evoke improvised music's past, present, and future while proving that free jazz can still be good, clean, liberating fun.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"guKTen LIMPo"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

VIDEOS:
The Celestial Squid Album Preview/EPK
Henry Kaiser and Ray Russell - VICTIMS (Official Video)

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
Kaiser official - Ruseell official - cuneiform


The Kandinsky Effect
Somnambulist
Genre: Jazz / Post-Jazz / Ambient
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 1/20/2015

On Somnambulist, The Kandinsky Effect wields its musical power in a welcoming way. Their 3rd album isn't form-eschewing free jazz, nor are the tonalities the trio employs particularly "out." The real revelation – and revolution – comes simply in the way Warren Walker (sax+effects), Gael Petrina (bass+effects), and Caleb Dolister (drums/perc.) organize sound. The Paris-and-New York-based trio has been boldly blending jazz with elements of everything from hip-hop to electronic music, making for an idiosyncratic amalgam that never goes exactly where you might expect it to. If you can envision a world in which a contemporary jazz giant like Joshua Redman jams with The Roots and electronic instigator Aphex Twin, then you have a head start on your ability to assimilate the sound of Somnambulist. But nothing can completely prepare you for its marriage of groove, atmosphere, and incendiary playing.     

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Somnambulist"
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @Youtube

VIDEOS:
Somnambulist Album Preview/EPK

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform


Le Rex
Wild Man
Genre: Jazz / Brass Band
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 10/2/2015


Le Rex are a quintet from Switzerland consisting of two saxophonists, trombone, tuba and drums. They are a band that answers the question:

"Can you still have a party when the lights go out?", with a resounding 'YES'!

The idea behind Le Rex was to create a very versatile, flexible, uncomplicated (therefore no electricity, no amplifiers!) combo to highlight the musician's common interests in music: groove, creativity, energy without lack of detail, exciting solos, openness combined with tight ensemble playing. They succeed on all of these counts on Wild Man, an album inspired by the people, places, parties, stories, styles, long car drives, food and life they encountered as musicians on the road.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Le Clic"
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
WAYSIDE MUSIC - BANDCAMP [24 bit / 48khz]


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform


Rob Mazurek /
Exploding Star Orchestra
Galactic Parables: Volume 1
Genre: Jazz / Creative / Experimental
Format: 3xLP / 2xCD / Digital
Release Date: 5/26/2015

"a psychedelic, spacey…electro-acoustic trip"
The Jazz Breakfast

The cornetist, composer and conceptualist Rob Mazurek leads his Exploding Star Orchestra through one of his most ambitious recordings, Galactic Parables: Volume 1, which is part of Mazurek’s epic sci-fi opera exploring an apocalyptic vision of alternate universes, machine reproduction run amuck, and the colonization of distant planets––inspired by the writings of Samuel R. Delany and Stanisław Lem. The universe is a very big place. Rob Mazurek is doing his part to fill it with glorious sound. Featuring: Rob Mazurek, Damon Locks, Angelica Sanchez, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, John Herndon, Matthew Lux, Matthew Bauder, Chad Taylor, Guilherme Ganado and Mauricio Takara.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"The Arc of Slavery #72"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform


Pixel
Golden Years
Genre: Jazz / Indie
Format: LP / CD / Digital
Release Date: 10/16/2015

The award-winning Norwegian jazz quartet, Pixel, is in the vanguard of a scene brimming with exceptional young musicians, charting an exhilarating, improvisation-steeped jazz path infused with the cathartic energy of indie rock. Pixel’s third album Golden Years captures the next step in the band’s rapid evolution.  Pixel consists of double bassist and vocalist Ellen Andrea Wang, drummer Jon Audun Baar, trumpeter Jonas Kilmork Vemøy, and saxophonist Harald Lassen (with everyone contributing vocals). Pixel tends toward translucent textures, tight orchestration and pop-inflected songcraft. While the sound is essentially acoustic, Vemøy and Lassen increasingly employ subtle effects that provide deeper textural depth to the already charged mélange of bright harmonies and protean rhythmic thrust.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Nothing Beats Reality"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform



Adam Rudolph /
Go: Organic Guitar Orchestra
Turning Towards The Light
Genre: Guitar / Improv / Experimental / Jazz / Creative Music
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 10/2/2015

On the Winter Solstice of 2014 – composer, bandleader and percussionist Adam Rudolph convened 11 of New York City’s finest and most adventurous guitarists for a most auspicious event: the debut of Go: Organic Guitar Orchestra, his all-guitar orchestra. In attendance were guitarists Rez Abbasi, Nels Cline, Liberty Ellman, David Gilmore, Miles Okazaki, and Marvin Sewell, all on electric guitars and effects; Damon Banks on bass guitar; Marco Capelli on acoustic guitar, effects; Jerome Harris on electric guitar, electric bass guitar, and lap steel guitar; Joel Harrison on electric guitar and national steel guitar; and Kenny Wessel on electric guitar and banjo. With Rudolph at the helm, conducting musical charts and creative improvisational energy, the orchestra began to play. The result is this extraordinary release, Turning Towards the Light.  

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Heliotropic"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
WAYSIDE MUSIC - BANDCAMP [24 bit / 48khz]


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform

Jazz and Beyond: Archival Recordings



Mike Osborne
Dawn
Genre: Jazz / Improv / Brit Jazz
Release Date: 2/3/2015
Format: CD / Digital

In the history of British jazz, there were few voices as unmistakable as Mike Osborne's alto saxophone. It could be found in big bands as disparate as those of Mike Westbrook and Chris McGregor; in major small-group sessions led by John Surman, Ric Colbeck, Alan Skidmore and Harry Beckett; and, most importantly, his own handful of albums as a leader. Dawn presents Osborne in both his earliest session extant, as a co-leader with Surman of an almost-traditional quartet from 1966, and in 1970 with the first known recording of his mighty trio with the transplanted South African rhythm team of Harry Miller and Louis Moholo. These unearthed 1966 and 1970 recordings, first released by Cuneiform Records, not only fill in important gaps in Osborne's own discography but in the history of British jazz as a whole.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"An Idea"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform


Soft Machine
Switzerland 1974
Genre: Canterbury / Fusion / Jazz Rock
Format: CD+DVD
Release Date: 2/3/2015

Soft Machine were one of the greatest UK avant/jazz-rock bands of all time and their work continues to be name-checked by today's hip experimentalists. Switzerland 1974 is a DVD+CD set featuring Soft Machine’s Montreux Jazz Festival performance, captured just a couple of weeks before their studio sessions in London for Bundles. The hour-long set is the only available visual document of Soft Machine’s Mike Ratledge, John Marshall, Karl Jenkins, Roy Babbington, Allan Holdsworth line-up. Soft Machine perform the entire Bundles album live, most notably the classic "Hazard Profile" suite. As well as retracing Soft Machine’s transformation into one of the leading exponents of jazz-fusion, Switzerland 1974 provides a rare chance to witness the genesis of guitar legend Allan Holdsworth’s unique, innovative and unbelievably fluid and dexterous playing, before he went on to universal acclaim.   

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Hazard Profile"
[excerpt]
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

VIDEO:
Switzerland 1974 DVD Trailer

PURCHASE LINKS:
AMAZON - BANDCAMP
WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
cuneiform

Rock and Beyond: New Recordings



Guapo
Obscure Knowledge
Genre: Rock / Avant Progressive / Experimental
Format: LP / CD / Digital
Release Date: 5/26/2015

"A maximal minimalist masterpiece…. Guapo...set the benchmark by which others can be measured."
Sid Smith, Prog Magazine

The greatly admired instrumental experimental rock band Guapo is celebrating 20 years in the game by releasing Obscure Knowledge, their explosive new album and tenth release! Centered around founding member and extraordinary drummer David J. Smith, the group on the album also features Kavus Torabi (guitar), Emmett Elvin (keyboards) and James Sedwards (bass). Guapo has always been committed to composing and playing inventive music. Torabi says: "...really it’s about four people playing together and respecting each other. All four people are trying to serve what the music does - not themselves."

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Obscure Knowledge I"
["Radio" Edit]
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform


Schnellertollermeier
X
Genre: Rock / Experimental / Brutal Jazz / Minimalist Rock
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 1/20/2015

On X, brutal jazz/minimalist rock power trio Schnellertollermeier boldly emerge from their key position in Switzerland’s underground rock scene with sharpened sonic knives, dialed up intensity, and laser-edged tunes to carve out a spot for themselves on the international stage. X is the young trio’s third recording, and in it they don't merely redefine their sound, they reinvent it. The tunes the band came up with -- after cloistering themselves away in a house in the Swiss mountains that served as their musical mad-scientist's laboratory -- recast the traditional function of the guitar-bass-drums lineup, expanding it into new territory and combining brute force with conceptualism. The Alps had given the trio space to let their imaginations soar. Against the sublime mountain backdrop, they perfected stark, powerful compositions and expanded their ideas. The resultant album, X, is a masterful work of instrumental musical intensity.

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"X"
[excerpt]
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform


SONAR
Black Light
Genre: Rock / Minimalism
Format: 2xLP / CD / Digital
Release Date: 10/16/2015

Far too many groups are described using the words "nobody sounds like them," but with Switzerland's Sonar, it's a description of rare verisimilitude. At a time when most guitarists' acumen is measured in notes per second, Sonar is, instead, the confluence of rigorously considered writing, collective restraint, and a sound instantly recognizable as much for what is not there as for what is. A musical animal that manages to engage the mind while hitting the heart and the feet. SONAR is a group whose purview extends beyond progressive rock into contemporary classicism...certainly minimalism...a subtle taste of jazz...and, on its latest album, Black Light, perhaps even a hint of surf music described by the band's primary composer/guitarist Stephan Thelen, as "Duane Eddy Meets Jackson Pollock."      

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Black Light"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform

Rock and Beyond: Reissues



Richard Pinhas
Chronolyse
[Vinyl LP Reissue]
Genre: Rock / Electronic / Experimental
Format: LP / CD / Digital
Release Date: 10/16/2015

Richard Pinhas has long been recognized as a pivotal figure in the development of combining rock music with electronics. Years before MIDI existed, Richard was creating sophisticated electronic music using vast walls of the available components of the day. Both as a solo artist and with his band Heldon, he released a number of advanced and classic albums in the 70s that set the stage for much of what is thought of as 'contemporary music'.

Originally released only in France in 1977, Chronolyse was his second solo album. It included one side of solo, live Moog synthesizer pieces, notable for their wide, stereo field and unique sound - a product of the weeks he spent setting up and programming the sounds on his huge Moog modular synthesizer and one side with a lengthy, stormy, drone-filled, epic of mellotrons, electronics, guitar, bass and drums by Heldon.

This is the first-ever vinyl reissue of this classic, which has been unavailable on vinyl for 35 years!

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Sur Le Theme De Bene Gesserit VII"
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform


Thinking Plague
In This Life
Genre: Rock / Avant Progressive / Art Rock / Rock in Opposition
Format: CD / Digital
Release Date: 10/2/2015

Thinking Plague has been releasing impossible to categorize albums to a devoted fan-base for over 30 years. In This Life, originally released in 1989, was the group's 3rd album and their first CD release after two previous albums that flew under the radar of most listeners.

Originally released by the ReR label, this was the first album to really bring this superb US band to a wider audience. It was their last to feature singer Susanne Lewis, who lends a convincing air to the menace of some of the lyrics. It is also their last album to feature Bob Drake as a full member of the band.

Just over twenty five years have passed since I first heard this album upon its release, but what I originally wrote about it still rings quite true, even if I didn't anticipate that the band would still be a vital force two and a half decades later: 'Combine the sound of the 5uu's with the Art Bears, add a (non Dagmar like) female singer and woodwinds, and you come up with this unique U.S. slant on the European art rock song sound. What a great album; one of 1989's best releases!'

PROMOTIONAL TRACK:
"Lycanthrope"

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

PURCHASE LINKS:
ITUNES - AMAZON
BANDCAMP - WAYSIDE MUSIC


ARTIST SITES:
official - facebook - cuneiform

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