Category Archives: Colin Stetson

Thousands now dead will live forever

In our minds today, sounds become words that convey images and tell stories. We turn those words into sounds and initiate an infinite regression from our literate present to a past of voices and grunts and twitches and rolls and hurling through the void until we reach stasis, spread geological over the rumbling and flowing surface of a young planet, letting sounds that we have not ears to ear wash over us in their astronomical purity.

Turn the black hole inside out like a glove and rinse its information off, gather it carefully in a bowl and mix it with the thick ale until it dissolves completely, then gaze at this melange safe in the knowledge that when you drink it, it will make you a God.

Colin Stetson – Reborn

Reborn is included in Colin Stetson’s soundtrack for Hereditary.

Volcanic eruptions rupture the skin of this planet that is also your skin, and clouds of smoke swirl in the nascent atmosphere, taking the shape of pre-raphaelite angels that dance and embrace and joust in a miracle with no witness, the only kind there is.

Alex Zhang Hungtai – Matrimony

Matrimony is included in Alex Zhang Hungtai’s Divine Weight.

[The image that illustrates this post is a computer-generated visualisation of a black hole produced by Jean Pierre Luminet in 1979, obtained from this nice physics article[


Transcendental Weaponry


(Photography by Kevin Baluff.)

In 2013, minimalism is making a lot of sense. Fire, too.

It’s hard to describe why brass can sometimes be such a great communicator, but certainly in the right hands and lungs a honking saxophone can be supremely lyrical. This horn’s thudding, pulsing bleats are industrial and rusty. It sounds like sunken submarines and rotting war weapons singing. Its overtones are caustic.

Weird how this voice can sound even more human when it’s forced through the factory-like valves and bends of a baritone sax, when it sounds like the very tones are corroding as they’re breathed through the machine. Maybe this description makes the music sound ugly, but that’s certainly not the case. It’s rough-around-the-edges soul music as much as anything.

For everyone who lost the faith in Constellation Records around the time every provincial support band you saw were dying to be Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Colin Stetson is a sacred enough reason to be renewing your vows.

Colin Stetson – High Above a Grey Green Sea

More beautifully unpolished diamonds can be found in 2013 in the form of Mats Gustafsson’s ferocious Fire! Orchestra. The cunningly titled Exit! is two side-long commitments to sax-as-transcendental weaponry.

You may have last heard Mats’ sax coiling itself around Neneh Cherry in our Best of 2012 rundown. Here, it’s just one of 28 separate elements swirling and stampeding in a totally live mix. Amazingly the musicians manage to avoid the common mistake in free or semi-improvisational music of fighting for every inch of space like their balls depend on it and actually listen to each other. And it just gets better and better. Where Stetson threads minimalism through his saxophone-led pieces, Gustafsson floods his with lava.

Buy Colin Stetson’s  New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light

Buy Fire! Orchestra’s Exit!