Torrent is the first recording of Mincek’s music since his 2011 self-titled debut on Carrier Records and launches Sound American’s Young Composer Portrait (YCP) series, which introduces emerging artists by releasing music from the span of their career alongside a series of interviews and essays that contextualize the ways in which their history, aesthetic, and sound thinking have informed their work to date.
Although he has gained acclaim for his early work with the post-rock group Zs, Alex Mincek is receiving long overdue attention for his chamber music – an iconoclastic combination of timbral rigor with frightening rhythmic drive and mastery of melody. Mincek does all this without becoming banal or derivative. As the composer told SA editor Nate Wooley in their interview for this release, he wants to enter in a “conversation” with the composers that he studies, a virtual give and take of ideas as opposed to rote learning.
This approach is clear from the music on Torrent – from the knotty push and pull of the Stravinskyesque Pneuma to the epic slow growth of the title track, which harkens to the quiet turbulence of Klaus Lang. Alex Mincek is hyper-aware of his surroundings while actively developing (and refining) his own voice.
Torrent is being released as a deluxe art object meant to give the listener a multivalent overview of Mincek’s history, aesthetic, and impact on the contemporary music world. The disc comes in a beautiful hardcover book-like case along with 28 pages of notes including the composer’s conversation with Sound American Editor and experimental trumpeter Nate Wooley and in-depth interviews with musicians working closely with Mincek, including Ian Antonio, Eric Wubbels, and Josh Modney.
1. Pendulum VII - 11:16 (2010/11) - for alto saxophone and ensemble
Wet Ink Large Ensemble: Erin Lesser: Flute 1 / Laura Cocks: Flute 2 / Alex Mincek: Saxophone Ian Antonio: Percussion / Ron Stabinsky: Piano / Josh Modney: Violin Carrie Frey: Viola / John Popham: Cello / Greg Chudzik: Bass Eric Wubbels: Conductor
Selected movements from Harmonielehre
(2013-16 and ongoing...) - for violin and piano
2. Chorale I: Sum + Difference - 6:08
3. Chorale II: Head against wall (For Petr Kotik) - 4:06
4. Envelopes - 3:55 Josh Modney: Violin / Eric Wubbels: Piano
5. Pneuma - 13:22 (2015) - for tenor saxophone and large ensemble
Wet Ink Large Ensemble: Michael Ibrahim: Saxophone solo / Erin Lesser: Flute / Laura Weiner: Horn Gareth Flowers: Trumpet / Weston Olencki: Trombone / Ian Antonio: Percussion Laura Barger: Piano / Josh Modney: Violin 1 / Marina Kifferstein: Violin 2 Carrie Frey: Viola / John Popham: Cello / Greg Chudzik: Bass / Eric Wubbels: Conductor
Selected movements from Harmonielehre (2013-ongoing...) - for violin and piano
6. Rendering I: Blue Poles No. 11 - :50
7. Vocalise (For Reiko Fueting) - 7:23
8. Rendering II: Oblique - 1:18
Josh Modney: Violin / Eric Wubbels: Piano
9. Torrent - 17:50 (2016) - for string quartet, 2 pianos and 2 percussion
Yarn / Wire & Mivos Quartet Laura Barger: Piano / Ning Yu: Piano / Ian Antonio: Percussion Russell Greenberg: Percussion / Olivia De Prato: Violin / Josh Modney: Violin Victor Lowrie: Viola / Mariel Roberts: Cello / Eric Wubbels: Conductor
Producer: Alex Mincek Recorded at Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY Recording Engineer: Ryan Streber Assistant Engineer: Michael Quick Piano Technician: Dan Jessie Edited by Hansdale Hsu and Ryan Streber Mixed and Mastered by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio
Pendulum VII was recorded on June 14th, 2016. Pneuma was recorded on June 15th, 2016. Harmonielehre and Torrent were recorded on September 8th, 2016.
Producer for Sound American: Nate Wooley Design and cover photography by Federico Peñalva.