Colin Stetson

New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges

BY Vincent PollardPublished Nov 17, 2016

Colin Stetson plays saxophone, but not quite like you've heard it before. Using a terrifyingly huge, elephantine-sounding baritone sax, circular breathing and percussive valve hits as rhythm, this is a solo album in the truest sense. Aside from guest vocals by Laurie Anderson and Shara Worden, the album was recorded live in one take with no overdubs or loops using 24 different microphones, including a contact mic on his throat and inside the saxophone itself. The end result was then taken to Ben Frost for mixing down in his Reykjavík studio. If you missed the first volume of his New History Warfare trilogy, or Stetson touring as part of Bell Orchestre, you may not know the Montreal-based Stetson by name, but you will know his work, having played for artists ranging from Tom Waits to Angelique Kidjo. Despite its high concept and avant-garde nature, Judges, with its great melodic sense, is surprisingly easy on the ears.

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