Prospectus artist Neil Leonard (FeFa) has announced the release of his new solo album, Matanzas, on Akoh records. Featuring alto saxophone, audio processing and field recordings, the album can be acquired as a limited edition vinyl LP or a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and other formats. Unlimited streaming is available via the free Bandcamp app. For access and/or purchase, visit https://neilleonard.bandcamp.com/album/matanzas
According to Neil: “Matanzas is an album of meditative and evocative pieces for alto saxophone, audio processing, and field recordings. The music was composed and recorded in Robert Rauschenberg’s studio in Captiva, Florida and inspired by his work. Field recordings are from the wetlands of Matanzas, Cuba, where I was collecting sound for an installation commissioned by documenta 14.”
From the album notes:
“The music on this LP is a reflection on living in and listening to the sounds of Matanzas, Cuba. My recordings of folkloric musicians, interviews and urban surface noise were in my ear while composing this work but not heard on the final pieces. What remains is the sensation ‘after listening,’ the stillness and sense of wonder that lingers after hearing Matanzas.
“This album seemed to compose itself. In August 2016, midway through developing new work for documenta 14, I was in residence at the Rauschenberg Residency Program in Captiva, Florida. The baby grand piano placed at the entrance of the 40’ x 80’ studio caught my attention. Each day I found myself playing it before sunrise while experiencing the solitude of the white space, the cathedral-like acoustics and the challenge of facing fresh music paper as light entered the room. Before long, I finished a collection of three and four voice vignettes.
“I recorded saxophone performances of each short piece. The room let clouds of notes ring simultaneously, as if the studio was a giant piano, sustaining the notes and forming chords. I added my field recordings made in the wetlands of Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) area of Ciénega Zapata, a 4,162 square-kilometer biosphere in Matanzas, to create a connective tissue between sections. Occasionally the waves, insects and migratory birds of the Americas intervene to guide us to the next section.”
According to The New York Times critic Holland Cotter: “Mr. Leonard creates a haunting, rhythmic, chantlike score, secular spiritual music for a New World. After leaving the gallery I kept hearing it, with delight, in my head, on the street, all afternoon.”