Colin Stetson is a horn player of uncommon strength, skill and genredefying creativity. He composes and performs otherworldly songs that combine a mastery of circular breathing technique with percussive valvework and reed vocalisations, making a polyphonic solo music that combines influences as diverse as Bach, early metal, American pre-war Gospel, and the explorations of Jimi Hendrix, Peter Brotzman and Albert Ayler.
New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is Stetson's second solo record and his first for Constellation. Colin has been making his mark as a staggering solo performer for several years now, in front of audiences small and large, from intimate jazz and experimental music venues to big stages, whether opening for Arcade Fire or The National, or playing at jazz and new music festivals like Moers and London Jazz.
His talents have been widely recognised and employed by artists as diverse as Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, TV On The Radio and Bon Iver.
Never were the way she was is guided by the metaphorical narrative of the life of a girl who ages slow as mountains; excited, exalted, and ultimately exiled in her search for a world that resembles her experience. The album's expansive sonic trajectory and multiplicity of structures and voicings belies the fundamental economy of two acoustic instruments combining in real time.
The result is a musical chronicle that powerfully establishes its own spatial and temporal horizon, a soundtrack that requires no images but profoundly compels the imaginative. From the filigreed ostinato polyrhythms of “The sun roars into view” and “In the vespers” to the stately long tones of “And they still move”, the dark drone-inflected sea-saw waltz of “With the dark hug of time” to the growling, pulsing thrust of the album’s epic centerpiece “The rest of us”, Stetson and Neufeld offer up an incredible (and impressively diverse) integration of composition, performance, timbre and texture while holding their respective instruments in sparkling juxtaposition. Never were the way she was is a sum quite definitively and thrillingly greater than its parts.