Mix a bit of yodeling with Tuvan throat singing, add in a pinch of Sardinian cantu a tenore, fold in compositions from cutting-edge composers and you have the vocal group Roomful of Teeth. This eight-voice ensemble, which includes the 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, is gleefully dismantling the traditional definition of ensemble singing right before our ears (and teeth!).
Musical descendants of the innovative extended vocal techniques of Meredith Monk, the Teeth tend to make sounds — some sweet, others alarming — that you probably haven’t heard from a group of humans.
In Australian composer Wally Gunn’s “The Fence is Gone,” verses emerge from an infrastructure of “oh-ha” syllables and a simple drum pulse, ending with women’s voices, tight in harmony, like a chord from a Casio keyboard. In Rinde Eckert’s “Cesca’s View,” imagine a lonely cowgirl on some windswept plain. Estelí Gomez gets her yodel on, beautifully, while the three other women vocalize in close, barbershop-style harmony. It literally ends on a high note.
To finish, Teeth founder and director Brad Wells contributes “Otherwise.” Warm, rounded tones in male voices contrast with a steely sheen from the women and a high drone like a Tibetan singing bowl. The harmonies take a tangy, almost Bulgarian turn, then we get something truly otherworldly. A pulsing, slightly creepy Sardinian “bim-bom” vocalise buzzes like a gigantic cicada. Dashon Burton’s operatic baritone soars above it all. The agility of the voices and multicolored blend they achieve are extraordinary.
As the applause faded away, one of the Teeth said, “Thanks for letting us yell at you.” No, I think it’s we who are grateful — and perhaps a little stunned. —TOM HUIZENGA
Wally Gunn: “The Fence Is Gone” 0:00
Rinde Eckert: “Cesca’s View” 4:30
Brad Wells: “Otherwise” 8:22
Producers: Bob Boilen, Tom Huizenga, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Maggie Starbard, Susan Hale Thomas; Assistant Producer: Susannah Whittle
We often feature acoustic guitarists who don’t just play the strings, but use the body of the guitar as a percussion instrument as well — but Tommy Emmanuel is the absolute master of the technique. If you haven’t seen him perform this tune before, be prepared to be blown away.
EBS Space, Korea
Aired on Jan.26/10
“Turning Ruts Into Grooves” From the album entitled “Mind Heart Fingers”
played on a custom Schwartz guitar designed by luthier Sheldon Schwartz
and Trevor Gordon Hall
CD & Guitar Tabs available at
trevorgordonhall.com and most other online
digital music stores.
Like on Facebook at: facebook.com
Full album produced by Grammy winning founder of Windham Hill Records Will
Ackerman and production whiz Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios in
Windham County, VT. Visit: imaginaryroadstudios.com
Just posted last week by Austin City Limits, here’s a wild performance of “Stagger Lee” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, one of the highlights of the magnificent 1996 album Murder Ballads.
Definitely not safe for work.
(And big kudos to ACL for posting it unedited at YouTube!)
Exclusive web-only bonus track not included in television broadcast.
Watch Austin City Limits on PBS. To find out when ACL is on in your area, visit: acltv.com to check your local listings.
10% of all proceeds go to Save The Rhino savetherhino.org
Dedicated to the irresistible groove of Thomas Leeb.
I originally wrote this tune specially for playing in South Africa. South Africans are the human race’s custodians of some of the most magnificent, yet vulnerable treasures of the natural world. They didn’t ask for this responsibility, but they bear it with strength and patience. It’s almost unbelievable that in 2014 the Rhino is in danger of be hunted to extinction, so people around the world can buy rhino horn to “cure” their baldness or impotence.
Just because a wizened old sage is prescribing grated rhino horn (at $5000 a gram) that doesn’t mean it works. In fact, it’s made of keratin, and so you could get exactly the same medical benefits for free, just by eating your own hair.
But Dance Of The Last Rhino isn’t a sad, mournful piece. It’s a wardance. The rhino is a noble, warrior-like animal, and they won’t go out without a fight. It starts with the Rhino scraping it’s massive hooves in the dirt, preparing to charge.
Tuning: A G C E A C (or B A D F# B D, down a tone)
Played on Wilma (Lowden O12c guitar)
Strings: Newtone Jon Gomm signature, 14-68
Pickups: Fishman Rare Earth Blend system + Carlos Juan SLY
Amp: Trace Acoustic TA200
Pedals: Boss OC-3 Super Octave, Boss RV-5, Boss DD-7
Video directed and edited by Owen Plummer
Audio engineered by Jon Gomm, Produced by Whiskas, and Mastered by Tom Woodhead.
This one’s a bit different from most of the acoustic guitar videos I’ve been posting — a pure modern classical guitar piece by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, beautifully performed by Michael Chapdelaine on a steel string guitar instead of a traditional gut string classical guitar.
“Harp of the Warrior”
This tune is from a suite of three pieces called the Black Decamaron, written by Cuban composer, Leo Brouwer.
It is an image of the classic mythological, aristocratic warrior, who is at once, a statesman, a lover and a father, a killer and an artist. We hear him here showing all those characteristics as he desperately plays his harp (that might be thought of, metaphorically, as his sword). We hear violence, and enlightenment, as well as a dynamic and wide range of feelings and vision of what life is to him. The first thing you may notice is that it is in an odd meter, 5/8. It gives the piece an incredible, somewhat asymmetrical smoothness (perpetual motion if you will), by which I’ve always been blown away. And it alternates between arpeggio which is there to give us tension, motion, and intensity, even violence, alternating with the same arpeggio, except with a very beautiful and sweet melody on top, showing the kind and loving side of this warrior. These arpeggio sections alternate with chordal sections where a somber, melancholic melody sings on top of the restless harmonies in the bottom. This represents regret and possible shame of the dirty work, making war and taking life, which our warrior has to do when he’s not being his peaceful and loving other selves.
A fascinatingly tricky and obtuse rhythm guitar pattern by Greg Howe makes this song a stand-out, along with Meghan Krauss’s knock-out vocals. Maragold is one of the best rock bands of 2014.
When he was 20, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson released an album in Iceland, sung in Icelandic, with many of the words written by his father. Dýrð í dauðaþögn became the biggest-selling debut in Icelandic music history. A year or so later, he rerecorded that album in English under the name In The Silence, with translation help from John Grant — an American singer-songwriter (and Tiny Desk veteran) now living in Iceland.
Ásgeir’s voice is angelic and yearning, his songs simple and universal. At the Tiny Desk, his raw, slowed-down arrangements bring a sense of grace to what were already elegant songs. On piano, with simple guitar accompaniment from his childhood friend Julius Róbertsson, Ásgeir strips these spare tunes down even further, locating their essence in the process. It’s been a wonderful year for the singer: His U.S. tour is wrapping up on the West Coast, and many in the U.S. have discovered his music in 2014. If you haven’t done so yet, here’s your Ásgeir moment.—BOB BOILEN
“On That Day”
Producers: Bob Boilen, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Maggie Starbard; Assistant Producer: Susan Hale Thomas; photo by Susan Hale Thomas/NPR
Ric Ocasek is back in the producer’s chair for Weezer’s latest, and it sounds absolutely great. This tune is a mission statement if there ever was one.