Colin Stetson | New History of Warfare, Vol. 1

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Avant Garde: Structured Improvisation Avant Garde: Psychedelia Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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New History of Warfare, Vol. 1

by Colin Stetson

Free jazz improvisation from the saxophonist for the Arcade Fire and Tom Waits.
Genre: Avant Garde: Structured Improvisation
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. And It Thought to Escape
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8:19 album only
2. Stand, Walk
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1:29 album only
3. Groundswell
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1:38 album only
4. Time Is Advancing With Fitful Irregularity
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7:06 album only
5. Drown the Rats and Giants
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1:13 album only
6. As a Bird or Branch
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4:13 album only
7. Ohp
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0:37 album only
8. Quincy Had a Glandular Problem
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1:37 album only
9. Nobu Take
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4:52 album only
10. Tiger Tiger Crane
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3:13 album only
11. Letter to Hst
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3:15 album only
12. Our Heartbreak Perfect
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11:02 album only
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
Colin Stetson was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI,
where he began to carve out his singular musical
voice that channels John Coltrane’s sheets of sounds,
as well as the post-modern beauty and angst of Sonic
Youth and The Pixies. Using assorted saxophones,
clarinet, flute and French horn, Stetson has played
and recorded with some of today’s hottest and most
revered musicians and bands, like Arcade Fire, Tom
Waits, TV On The Radio, Antibalas, Anthony Braxton,
Medeski, Martin and Wood and Burning Spear.
Studying with the likes of Roscoe Mitchell, Donald
Sinta, Steve Adams and Henry Threadgill, Stetson
earned a music degree from the University of Michigan
in 1997. More importantly, extensive gigging
with his band Transmission around Ann Arbor and
Detroit earned him a reputation for being an exemplary
improviser, composer and circular breather.
Never one to cage himself into categories, Stetson
joined forces with progressive jazz-rockers Larval,
as well as DJ Recloose, which eventually led to
Stetson’s appearance on the acclaimed Cardiology
Along with the rest of Transmission, Stetson moved
to San Francisco in 1998, befriending, playing and
recording with the likes of Fred Frith, Kenny Wollesen,
Beulah and the late Matthew Sperry. Stetson and
his Transmission brothers anchored a musical community
that garnered high praise in the Bay Area
press, and eventually led to national and international
attention when in 2002, Tom Waits recruited
Stetson to record on the landmark albums Alice and
Blood Money (which led to Stetson making an appearance
on David Letterman with Waits).
While it is true to say that Stetson makes an impression
whenever he plays, his ability to become the music
comes through best when he is the leader of a
band, or a one-man show. Since relocating to New
York City in 2004, Stetson has been able to balance
high-exposure gigs with innovative solo performances
in front of captivated audiences. According to the Village
Voice, “Stetson\'s solo work ranges from firesidewarm
Hungarian folk tunes to bass squonking that jackhammers
the mind.”
In 2002, Stetson recorded a solo, limited edition 3-
inch CD release of a performance at the Artship in
Oakland, and his full-length debut as a leader came in
the summer of 2003 with the quintet recording Slow
Descent. Approaching songs as narratives, a trick he
learned from Waits, adds an emotional dynamic to
Stetson’s playing that exceeds listeners’ expectations
as to what sounds can issue forth from any of the
instruments Stetson puts to his lips. No better is this
virtuosic ability heard than on New History Warfare,
Volume 1, Stetson\'s first full-length solo recording from
Aagoo Records. On this album, the vast musical experiences
that Stetson has accumulated over a short period
of time have been crafted into 12 songs that defy
genres, establishing a sound that is Colin Stetson in full


to write a review

John Book/The Run-Off Groove

Brilliant, "next level" saxophone work
Colin Stetson is not your ordinary saxophone player. He can play it in a jazz manner, the saxophone is a celebrated instrument in the genre. But you can hear it in classical, rock'n'roll, soul, funk, electronic, and various styles of music from around the world. New History Warfare Vol. 1 (Aagoo) sounds like its title, the album is an audio attack where the saxophone is put into the hands of someone who wants to take it out of its own comfort zone and put it in places unknown.

While Stetson has been involved in a number of group projects, this is his first solo album. It is a true solo album, he is the only one who plays on it, and the liner notes indicate that all songs were recorded live, no overdubs or loops. This is said because some of these sounds sound "treated" and "altered", because some songs sound as if there were four people in the studio, while others don't quite sound like something that would come out of a saxophone. "And It Fought To Escape", the opening track, sounds like a train slowly speeding up, and it sounds like a non-stop eight minute barrage of loops, bursts, grunts, and blasts. The guy has some mean breath control, and it sounds like he's never going to stop. "Time Is Advancing WIth Fitful Irregularity" sounds like an on-location recording of a ship coming into the dock of a harbor, while "Stand, Walk" appears to be an amplified saxophone that sounds like someone playing an electric bass. Other tracks has him playing with effects, perhaps with guitar pedals or some time of other effect. Miles Davis was known for playing through a microphone that was hooked up to a wah-wah pedal, resulting in sounds that sounded like a keyboard or guitar, but this goes much further than that. He may start out with playing a phrase, and then the drums kick in as he plays over it. Then you realize the drums you're hearing is Stetson. Again, no overdubs or loops, this is stuff that is being played and recorded live. He also does a little beat box excursion, before creating the sound of assassination.

Stetson alternates between various saxophones and a clarinet, but what he does with it makes the selection of instruments almost a moot issue. I say "almost", because obviously that's the factor that will make people want to hear this, how he has a love of turning the sound coming out of his saxophone into something else. New History Warfare Vol. 1 sounds like music from someone who knows the rules, but does everything in his power to not follow them.