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  • Announcing New Vinyl Reissues from Entourage Music and Theater Ensemble, Craig Kupka, and Ann McMillan, Out May 22

    We have announced the latest editions in our ongoing Smithsonian Folkways Vinyl Reissue Series, collecting three classic avant-garde and experimental releases from the Folkways catalog. The reissues, out May 22, 2020, span new age and minimalism, tape compositions incorporating animal sounds, and influential exploratory folk music, and are all remastered from the original tapes and packaged in the classic tip-on Folkways jackets and feature liner notes inserts. For a limited time, you can order all three vinyl reissues titles: The Neptune Collection, Gateway Summer Sounds: Animal and Other Abstracted Sounds, and Crystals: New Music for Relaxation 2 as a bundle and you'll receive a bonus Folkways slipmat. All of the titles are now available for pre-order.

    Craig Kupka – Crystals: New Music for Relaxation 2

    The sonorous drift of four trombones, like gentle waves lapping at the edge of a celestial shoreline, opens Craig Kupka’s second album for Folkways, Crystals: New Music for Relaxation 2. Featuring two side-long compositions for trombone and synthesizer, the album is intended as an aid for meditation, a guided journey inward towards self-discovery. Before its original release in 1982, Kupka and his wife Nancy took these recordings to relaxation classes and dance studios, field-testing them with participants primed for a meditative experience, and received extensive positive feedback. Like works by contemporaries Michael Stearns, Iasos, and Steve Roach, this is healing music that opens the outer reaches of the mind.

    Ann McMillan – Gateway Summer Sound: Abstracted Animal and Other Sounds

    Ann McMillan did not record prolifically, but she was at the vanguard of electronic composition in New York in the 1970s. A student of groundbreaking composer Edgard Varèse, McMillan’s primary medium was magnetic tape, which she manipulated to create surreal soundscapes. On Gateway Summer Sound, her debut album released on Folkways in 1979 and recorded at the legendary Princeton-Columbia Electronic Music Center, she sources sounds from the natural world – frogs, insects, field recordings from the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York Harbor – along with gongs, bells, and a harpsichord to conceive remarkable, hypnagogic compositions. Like the music of Daphne Oram and Pauline Oliveros, her compositions for tape have been overshadowed by those of her male counterparts, but her work is no less revolutionary or vital.

    The Entourage Music & Theatre Ensemble – The Neptune Collection

    An epigraph to the liner notes of The Neptune Collection, the second album by The Entourage Music & Theatre Ensemble, reads, “We are a group flexible in size and temperament. Our purpose is to create original works in a collective manner. We utilize music, dance, poetry, and theatre skills.” Plainly stated, this dictum represents the core of the dynamic, multi-medium approach the group employed in the mid-70s when the album was recorded. The music on The Neptune Collection traces through-lines between jazz, folk music, and various forms of traditional music from around the world, and is a precursor to the expansive sounds of Six Organs of Admittance, Bill Orcutt, and Sun City Girls. This is curious music, lithe and free, but endlessly listenable.

    Check out the other titles in our Smithsonian Folkways Vinyl Reissue Series:

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