Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion’s ‘Rectangles and Circumstance’ Out Now on Nonesuch

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Rectangles and Circumstance, an album of ten songs co-written and performed by Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, is out now. Shaw and Sō's Eric Cha-Beach and Adam Sliwinski "sourced a group of nineteenth-century poems that shaped its expressive mode [and] ended up using verses by Christina Rosetti, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, and William Blake," says Sliwinski. "The lyrics on this album by members of the band contain wordplay that explores the same profound feelings explored by Blake and Dickinson.” Shaw and Sō co-produced the album with Grammy-winning engineer Jonathan Low (The National, Taylor Swift). Also out today is a video for the album track "Sing On," which you can watch here.

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Rectangles and Circumstance, an album of ten songs co-written and performed by Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, is out now on Nonesuch Records; you can get it and hear it here. The album follows their 2021 Grammy Award–winning Nonesuch debut, Narrow Sea, and their first record as a band, 2021’s Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part, with Shaw on vocals backed by Sō—Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting. Grammy-winning engineer Jonathan Low (The National, Taylor Swift) co-produced with them on both Let the Soil… and Rectangles and Circumstance. You can take a quick look at the packaging here:

Also out today is a video for the album track "Sing On," directed by Evan Chapman and Kevin Eikenberg for Four/Ten Media:

Sliwinski says in the new album’s liner notes, “After a few years of touring Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part together, with a pandemic in between, we came to record our second album, Rectangles and Circumstance, as a road-tested band who knew each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies intimately.” He continues, “Most of the songs started with instrumental pieces or fragments of pieces from Jason or Eric.

“As both a songwriter and a classical composer, Caroline is accustomed to writing lyrics as well as setting them. Going over texts with her is like working on music: I collect a handful of poems and send them over to her, waiting to see if anything catches her interest, then I modify my search based on her feedback,” Sliwinski says. “For this album, Caroline, Eric, and I sourced a group of nineteenth-century poems that shaped its expressive mode [and] ended up using verses by Christina Rosetti, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, and William Blake … The lyrics on this album by members of the band contain wordplay that explores the same profound feelings explored by Blake and Dickinson.”

You can read the complete liner note in the Nonesuch Journal here.

Caroline Shaw is a musician who moves among roles, genres, and mediums, trying to imagine a world of sound that has never been heard before but has always existed. She is the recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, several Grammy awards, an honorary doctorate from Yale, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. She has worked with a range of artists including Rosalía, Renée Fleming, and Yo-Yo Ma, and she has contributed music to films and TV series including Fleishman Is in Trouble, Bombshell, Yellowjackets, Maid, Dark, and Beyoncé’s Homecoming. In addition to her albums with Sō, Nonesuch has released her two Grammy-winning albums Orange (2019) and Evergreen (2022), both of which feature Attacca Quartet. “Two-Step,” the first of Shaw’s songs with Ringdown, her duo with Danni Lee, to be released on Nonesuch is available now. Caroline Shaw was announced as Wigmore Hall’s 2024–25 Composer in Residence.

For twenty years and counting, Sō Percussion has redefined chamber music for the twenty-first century through an “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam” (New Yorker). Their commitment to the creation and amplification of new work, and their extraordinary powers of perception and communication, have made them trusted partners for composers including David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Nathalie Joachim, Bryce Dessner, Dan Trueman, Kendall K. Williams, Angélica Negrón, Shodekeh Talifero, claire rousay, Leilehua Lanzilotti, Bora Yoon, Olivier Tarpaga, and many others. Sō has recorded more than twenty-five albums, including a performance of Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet on the Nonesuch record WTC 9/11. Its members are the Edward T. Cone performers-in-residence at Princeton University. Sō Percussion’s educational and community work includes the Sō Laboratories concert series and the Sō Percussion Summer Institute, an intensive two-week chamber music seminar for percussionists and composers.

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Caroline Shaw & Sō Percussion: ‘Rectangles and Circumstance’ [cover]
  • Friday, June 14, 2024
    Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion’s ‘Rectangles and Circumstance’ Out Now on Nonesuch

    Rectangles and Circumstance, an album of ten songs co-written and performed by Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, is out now on Nonesuch Records; you can get it and hear it here. The album follows their 2021 Grammy Award–winning Nonesuch debut, Narrow Sea, and their first record as a band, 2021’s Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part, with Shaw on vocals backed by Sō—Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting. Grammy-winning engineer Jonathan Low (The National, Taylor Swift) co-produced with them on both Let the Soil… and Rectangles and Circumstance. You can take a quick look at the packaging here:

    Also out today is a video for the album track "Sing On," directed by Evan Chapman and Kevin Eikenberg for Four/Ten Media:

    Sliwinski says in the new album’s liner notes, “After a few years of touring Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part together, with a pandemic in between, we came to record our second album, Rectangles and Circumstance, as a road-tested band who knew each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies intimately.” He continues, “Most of the songs started with instrumental pieces or fragments of pieces from Jason or Eric.

    “As both a songwriter and a classical composer, Caroline is accustomed to writing lyrics as well as setting them. Going over texts with her is like working on music: I collect a handful of poems and send them over to her, waiting to see if anything catches her interest, then I modify my search based on her feedback,” Sliwinski says. “For this album, Caroline, Eric, and I sourced a group of nineteenth-century poems that shaped its expressive mode [and] ended up using verses by Christina Rosetti, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, and William Blake … The lyrics on this album by members of the band contain wordplay that explores the same profound feelings explored by Blake and Dickinson.”

    You can read the complete liner note in the Nonesuch Journal here.

    Caroline Shaw is a musician who moves among roles, genres, and mediums, trying to imagine a world of sound that has never been heard before but has always existed. She is the recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, several Grammy awards, an honorary doctorate from Yale, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. She has worked with a range of artists including Rosalía, Renée Fleming, and Yo-Yo Ma, and she has contributed music to films and TV series including Fleishman Is in Trouble, Bombshell, Yellowjackets, Maid, Dark, and Beyoncé’s Homecoming. In addition to her albums with Sō, Nonesuch has released her two Grammy-winning albums Orange (2019) and Evergreen (2022), both of which feature Attacca Quartet. “Two-Step,” the first of Shaw’s songs with Ringdown, her duo with Danni Lee, to be released on Nonesuch is available now. Caroline Shaw was announced as Wigmore Hall’s 2024–25 Composer in Residence.

    For twenty years and counting, Sō Percussion has redefined chamber music for the twenty-first century through an “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam” (New Yorker). Their commitment to the creation and amplification of new work, and their extraordinary powers of perception and communication, have made them trusted partners for composers including David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Nathalie Joachim, Bryce Dessner, Dan Trueman, Kendall K. Williams, Angélica Negrón, Shodekeh Talifero, claire rousay, Leilehua Lanzilotti, Bora Yoon, Olivier Tarpaga, and many others. Sō has recorded more than twenty-five albums, including a performance of Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet on the Nonesuch record WTC 9/11. Its members are the Edward T. Cone performers-in-residence at Princeton University. Sō Percussion’s educational and community work includes the Sō Laboratories concert series and the Sō Percussion Summer Institute, an intensive two-week chamber music seminar for percussionists and composers.

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