In 2011, David Longstreth, singer and composer for critically-acclaimed indie rock collective Dirty Projectors, approached yMusic about joining the band in the studio for some overdub sessions. After many ideas and saxophones were thrown around, yMusic recorded with David in December. The results can be heard on four tracks of the band’s latest album, Swing Lo Magellan, as well as the About To Die EP. yMusic will open for and perform with Dirty Projectors on January 11, 2013, at Carnegie Hall.
My Brightest Diamond
Shara Worden is one of today’s most inspiring singers and sought-after collaborators. She also happens to be the first bandleader Rob ever worked with, beginning in his junior year of college back in 2003. The two met on Craigslist after he read an ad titled “Britten, Buckley, Boulez, Bjork” and hit send as quickly as possible. After working together on The Long Count, Shara wrote yMusic a song cycle, Letters From Charles, based on her grandfather’s courtship correspondence. When, soon after, Shara was commissioned by the Lincoln Center American Songbook to write an entirely new set of songs, she chose again to write yMusic’s chamber-focused sound. The resulting songs make up All Things Will Unwind, her third album, released in 2011 by Asthmatic Kitty. The album features yMusic along with Shara, playing all manner of acoustic instruments, and Brian Wolfe on drums.
We Are Rising
When yMusic was brainstorming about collaborators for its debut record, the name Son Lux kept coming up. Active as a composer, electronic musician, singer-songwriter and remix artist, Son Lux was exactly the kind of musician yMusic aspired to work with. The result of this initial commission was Beautiful Mechanical, the title track of yMusic’s debut album and incidentally the first piece of instrumental music written for the ensemble. This proved the jumping off point for constant and growing collaboration; when chosen by NPR’s All Songs Considered to create and document the making of an album in a single month, Son Lux called on all the members of yMusic, in various configurations, to contribute notes and improvisations. Through skillful manipulation, Son Lux created We Are Rising, using yMusic as an endlessly malleable and sample-able sonic space to exciting and unique results.
The Long Count
Before yMusic ever existed as such, nearly all of its members had worked with the composers and brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner, in fact the germ of an idea for the ensemble was conceived during a party after a Brooklyn performance by their band The National. Commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for its 2010 Next Wave Festival, The Long Count is a collaboration between musicians Aaron and Bryce Dessner and visual artist Matthew Ritchie. The work is a multimedia song cycle based on the Mayan creation myth which features the acclaimed singers Kim & Kelley Deal, Shara Worden, and Matt Berninger. As Musical Director for The Long Count, Rob co-arranged the songs, featuring five of yMusic’s members as the core ensemble. The Long Count was subsequently toured to Amsterdam’s Muzikgebouw for the Holland Festival, and London’s Barbican Center.
For the Union Dead
Gabriel Kahane has always been close friend to yMusic, and various of the ensemble members had collaborated with him before the ensemble crystallized. In fact, Kahane was one of the first people to be informed of the existence of yMusic and decided the group’s instrumentation would suit his plans for a commission from the Verbier Festival. The resulting nine-movement song cycle For The Union Dead features yMusic with the composer on vocals, piano and banjo. The piece was partially premiered in 2008 at Ars Nova and received its first full performance at (le) Poisson Rouge in 2009. It was reprised the following year at the Lincoln Center American Songbook series.