Jodie Landau and wild Up -
you of all things
Even if, in addition to writing, playing and singing his own material, Jodie Landau had not brought on board an established producer, three other L.A.-based composers, six chamber musicians, and an entire Icelandic women's chorus, you of all things would still be a most unusual debut.
For one thing, Landau's voice is a most unusual instrument. At once raw and exposed, pure and unerringly precise, his vocals are able to veer between choirboy cantillation, torch-singer croon, and full-throated bellow without losing a character that is unmistakably his own. And his compositional aesthetic—which manages to encompass both the unpretentious bounce of popular song and moments of ominous stasis, setting his own, emotionally intimate lyrics or penning purely instrumental interludes—demands that elasticity.
Landau found his collaborators a good deal closer to home, among the musical family he has cultivated within the Los Angeles new-music scene. wild Up, a rising young new-music ensemble led by Christopher Rountree—who conducts here —has a long association with the singer/composer, and like Graduale Nobili, provide both accompanimental textures and moments of their own highly exposed virtuosity, to the extent that if one takes the album as a whole, there is not so much the sense that any one of these elements is working in service of any other, as that they are all organically interdependent and interconnected systems essential to a single sound-world.
The scores demand a certain spontaneity from the performers, and that spontaneity is reflected in a recording that captures the whirlwind energy of these sessions, without sacrificing clarity, quality or color of sound. The resulting album offers us a glimpse of a wild, chimerical beast, caught in action for the first time, but never quite tamed.
Released October 2, 2015