sweet light crude

884501398961 (1)sweet light crude is a 2010 album by the ensemble Newspeak.  It contains six pieces by different composers in a style that has been called “punk classical”.  To me, the six pieces are varied enough that I’d be reluctant to put a two word label on the “style” but it’s certainly reflective of a certain kind of New York music making that combines contemporary classical influences with a whole lot of other stuff.

Here are brief, and possibly useful (or not), descriptions of each piece.

  • Oscar Bettison’s B&E (with aggravated assault) is a high energy number that sounds like a sort of squeaky minimalist jazz with a drum kit in the background.
  • Stefan Weisman’s I Would Prefer Not To, by contrast uses an eyhereal high vocal line over lyrical instrumentals with a rhythm section in the background.
  • David T. Little’s sweet light crude is another vocal piece that starts with more ethereal vocals ove a folky violin tune and drone before become something more like synth pop.
  • Missy Mazzoli’s In Spite of All This plays off a sort of scooping violin rtiff against a minimalist piano line.
  • Pat Muchmore’s Brennschluß goes full on apocalyptic with heavy metal influences.  It’s quite chaotic and requires a range of vocal styles including speech.
  • Finally, Caleb Burhans Requiem for a General Motors in Janesville is very low key.  There’s a slow melody line plus drones before vocals kick in with a kind of post industrial dust bowl feel.

All in all it’s 42 minutes of really varied and intriguing music of a kind I only seem to come across from the New York indie classical scene.  It’s well recorded and currently available for download in MP# and CD quality FLAC formats.

For the record Newspeak is Caleb Burhans – violin, Mellissa Hughes – voice, James Johnston –  piano, synth, organ, Taylor Levine – guitar, David T. Little – director, drums, Eileen Mack – co-director, clarinets, Brian Snow – cello and Yuri Yamashita – percussion.

Catalogue number: New Amsterdam Records NWAM026