Album Cover Reveal

the skin, the sea, the sound – April 1, 2014

the skin, the sea, the sound-COVER (web)

artwork by Ben Stamper

First Sounds Reveal – February 4, 2014!

Album Trailer Reveal (1st of 3!) – DONE! Go here: vimeo.com/83510174

Awfully Kind Words Reveal – Read on!

“It’s the type of music where every note matters.”
– Greg Saunier / Deerhoof, Mystical Weapons

“Beautiful modern lieder from the moon.”
– Aakaash Israni / Dawn of Midi

“Stamper, himself, resides in the intersection of a variety of things – between pop and experiment, between formal elegance and confessional self-expression, between the improvisatory flow of jazz and the rigors of classical composition. It’s the kind of balancing act that makes choosing one thing over another seem cloddish.”
– Jennifer Kelly / Dusted Magazine

“The kind of album where every single bar of music seems to evolve from the last. With ‘the skin, the sea, the sound’, Stamper takes cues from prog-jazz, indie rock, and totalism in equal measure, but creates something entirely new, weird, and beautiful.”
– Lushlife

“Stamper is a remarkable composer, arranger and songwriter. ‘the skin, the sea, the sound’ brings it all together wonderfully. Every moment is original, and every song is a testimony to this great artist.”
– Brian McTear / Weathervane Music

Toynbee

Toynbee

This summer, I had the unique opportunity to write orchestral arrangements for Lushlife, moniker of the extraordinary hip-hop artist Raj Haldar, who had been invited to create a piece for Shaking Through, an audio/video series curated by Weathervane Music. ‘Toynbee Suite’ is Raj’s extended meditation on the infamous Toynbee Tiles, mysterious license-plate-sized tiles of unknown origin, embedded in streets and sidewalks all over the country, and even in South America. The cryptic and inscrutable message of each tile is the same:

Toynbee Idea
In Kubrick’s 2001
Resurrect Dead
On Planet Jupiter

The piece is divided into four movements, one movement per line, and all of Raj’s formidable word-smith prowess is aimed at spelunking the impenetrable nature of the Tiler’s words; of trying to ascertain what vision of human and cosmic flourishing could account for such heroic but obscure measures, such urgent but opaque lengths taken to communicate.

Writing for any artist is always a fun challenge. You are trying to crack the code of a particular artist’s vision while maintaining the integrity of your own aesthetic. This piece was that challenge squared: I interacting with the rich and clear artistic tableau of Lushlife, but I was also interfacing with the rich but decidedly unclear message of a bracingly sincere and single-minded Tiler. It was both invigorating and bizarre.

With that, click here to listen to ‘Toynbee Suite’ in its entirety (arrangements executed with soul and precision by the inimitable Dark Horse Orchestra), and click below to see the short documentaries about the making of. All are terrific.

Meet you on Planet Jupiter…

RIVERS

Movement of time, of water, of air and flame, of human beings: these are a few of my favorite things. Reckoning with the impossible calculus that instructs motions macro and micro, the closing of an eyelid, the surge of a wave, the peel of a race car around its track; this mesmerizing dynamism that is at once confounding and comforting is an increasingly irresistible pull for me.

Along these lines, I’m extremely happy to announce Elements, a four-part, multi-media (and multi-year!) series, exploring the physical, environmental, cultural, and philosophical/spiritual significance of the four classical elements (water, air, fire, earth), and the specific ways their movements have shaped the city of Philadelphia, its culture, and its history.

RIVERS, the first chapter in the series, is a picture of Philadelphia through the eyes of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.  Written for prepared piano and prepared cello (The Brooks-Delaney Duo), dance (Lea Fulton), and film (Ben Stamper), and funded in part by the American Composers Forum, The Eric Stokes Fund “Earth’s Best in Tune”, and The Speranza Foundation, performances are set for fall of 2014 with a DVD/download release to follow shortly after. Take a gander at the trailer below, and stay tuned for regular updates!

The river is of the earth
and it is free. It is rigorously
embanked and bound,
and yet is free. “To hell
with restraint,” it says.
“I have got to be going.”
It will grind out its dams.
It will go over or around them.
They will become pieces.

~ Wendell Berry, Give It Time, from Leavings

Like Those Who Dream

‘We Were Like Those Who Dream’, a new Stamper-Fulton-Stamper collaboration, is now available for your viewing pleasure. A big thank you to Evan Mazunik and Sparks and Echo Arts for inviting us to be a part of things. Enjoy the video below, and read a bit about the piece here.

Music by Joshua Stamper
Daniel Delaney – cello
Amy Christmas Halteman – clarinet
Joshua Stamper – guitar
Dance by Lea Fulton
Photography and Edit by Ben Stamper

YEAR

PAA_Ann_Hamilton_JamesEwing-4794photo by James Ewing

This Christmas my family and I were given a remarkable gift: admission to an exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City called ‘The Event of A Thread‘, by Ann Hamilton. A massive silk that moves like water or vapor, a field of swings, a record stylus, wooden crates of live pigeons, scrolls spilling onto the floor, a ceiling peppered with pulleys, bags of words and sacks of sound…it’s difficult to describe the piece, in either its scope or particulars, but we were children again. There was play, joy, rest, wonder.

In Ann Hamilton’s discussion of the piece and of the Armory’s role in its evolution, she states, “It happened because a space was made for it to happen.” Though I’m less shy than some to make New Year’s resolutions, my faith in my own ability to carry through on new commitments to “better” is sufficiently tempered. I’m struck though by Hamilton’s statement; where solitude, reflection, exploration and craft are so easily bullied by the crush of life and of calendars, creating space to create and making room for things to “happen” (with the obvious implication that if room isn’t made, things won’t happen), seems particularly urgent and necessary. How much wonder, play, and beauty could exist only for want of a place to exist? So with that, “it happened because a space was made for it to happen”–my artistic manifesto for 2013.

2013 Here We Come!
There are a whole host of goodies waiting in the wings this year, not the least of which is the completion of a new Joshua Stamper album (the bulk of which was recorded in Norway, arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth), a piece for cello and piano commissioned by the remarkable Brooks-Delaney Duo, and the completion of Ruth Naomi Floyd’s stunning photography and music project, The Veil Series, for which I’ve been privileged to act as music director. Much to look forward to!

Two Recent Projects From 2012: Maker of Stars, Be Born (EP) and Horse & Rider Soundtrack
image by Ansa Stamper

Over the past several years, I’ve been honored to contribute to a Christmas compilation released by Sounds Familyre Records called A Familyre Christmas. It’s a wild and wooly celebration with song-gems running the stylistic gammut from a heap of gifted and creative artists. I’m happy to announce that the best of my Advent-time contributions to this effort have been gathered and are available as a brand-new EP called Maker of Stars, Be Born. Technically, the Christmas season doesn’t end until January 6th, so you can listen and enjoy with impunity. A happy note that all proceeds from the sale of Maker of Stars, Be Born will be donated to The Red Cross for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Click on the album cover above to listen.

image by Vesper Stamper

My brother Ben Stamper is one of the most talented artists I know. Several months ago he finished a documentary called Horse & Rider which is the story of two young women, Asha and Mangala, their rescue from the sex trade in India and their subsequent journey of restoration. It’s a powerful, beautiful and poignant film. I was very privileged to write the orchestral score for it, which was just released this past month. Click on the image below to hear and purchase (all proceeds from the sale of this music will go directly to Freedom Firm, for the rescue and restoration of victims of human trafficking).

And with that, I sign off grateful for a rich 2012 and hopeful about 2013. Happy New Year, dear folk!

It happened because a space was made for it to happen,
Josh

Comin’ To Towns!

Packed lunches: check
Fed rabbit / walked dog: check
New strings: check
Instruments tuned: check
Full tank of gas: check

This is terribly exciting.

I am very very happy to announce some very very special forthcoming events. The full quartet (featuring good-lookin’ chaps and what what?! musicians Paul Arbogast, Mike Cemprola, and Jon Rees) is comin’ to towns. You’re all invited! We’re super excited to share music from Interstitials, as well as brand new music from the upcoming record (to be released in coming months…more on that later). There are some extraordinary artists sharing the stage with us too, and I must say this set of dates is shaping up to be something pretty neat. Without further ado, details as follows:

May 3 – Sycamore / Brooklyn, NY / 9:00 Θ
May 5 – Montague Road House Concerts / Amherst, MA / 7:00 (limited seating: to reserve tickets, click here) *
May 6 – Zebulon / Brooklyn, NY / 7:30 §
May 11 – New City Galerie / Burlington, VT / 7:00 *
May 12 – All Angels / Manhattan, NY/ 9:00  ±
June 3 – Joe’s Pub / Manhattan, NY / 9:00 Ω
June 9 – Uncertainty Music Series / New Haven, CT / 8:00
July 6-7 – Egersund Festival/ Egersund, Norway ◊

Θ  with Kevin Shea & His Electro-Munchkin Robot
* featuring photographs by W.R. Cooley and silent films by Ben Stamper
§  with Ryan Sawyer, Shahzad Ismaily, Darius Jones; Shy Hunters; Free Paint (Greg Saunier, Sara Magenheimer)
±  with Bridget Kibbey and featuring an exclusive installation of etchings and lithographs by Ben Zion and Marc Chagall
Ω  with David Garland
◊  with Robyn Hitchcock, Howe Gelb, I Was A King, Trembling Bells, and more!

Thanks, dear folk. I hope you’re all feelin’ fine, and see you soon!

Josh

acfhorizontallogop.s. These concerts are made possible through the generous support of the American Composers Forum.

Cosmic Shockwaves, ACF, and Last Minute Shopping

Seasons Greetings Folks!
Fall and winter are without question, my favorite seasons. The nip (autumn) and bite (winter) of the air makes everything stand out in clearer relief, and that furious motion of leaves and wind yielding to the patient falling of snow settles me like few other things can. All that to say, I am feelin’ fine. So with that…

New Music!
Over the past few years, the good people at Sounds Familyre Records, a wonderful community of artists doing all kinds of interesting and fascinating things, have put out a Christmas compilation called ‘A Familyre Christmas’, to which I’ve been honored to contribute. My contribution to this years’ compilation is called “Maker of Stars, Be Born”, and was just posted for free download today. It’s decidedly more focused on the cosmic side of Christmas which, when you think about it, characterizes the holiday en total.  Weird, bizarre, strange: the idea of the infinite squeezing into something not just finite, but so finite. It’s not difficult to imagine the universe rippling with shockwaves at such an event. So, to hear “Maker of Stars, Be Born”, just press play on the little widget below.  Enjoy!

Also, if you’re interested in hearing a couple other Stamper contributions to previous ‘A Familyre Christmas’ compilations, click here and here.  Make sure to check out some of the other music that’s there too.  There are some real unique and special beauties to partake of.

acfhorizontallogo

Subito!
Exciting news! Last month, I was awarded a Subito Grant from the American Composers Forum (Philadelphia Chapter), to help get my quartet on the road and to a theatre near you! It’s a real honor. We’ll be mounting an East Coast tour lasting around ten days during the spring or summer of 2012.  I’ll keep you all posted on the details as they came together. Thanks ACF!!

Last Minute Holiday Shopping!
Interstitials_LP_front-400Get ’em while they’re (still) hot: Interstitials Limited Edition Vinyl Import from Hype City Records. In honor of the holidays, they’re 15% off from now through January 2nd. Don’t have a turntable? No problem: the import also includes a CD. That in addition to the stunning photography of William R. Cooley, a beautiful matte finish, costume lyric sleeve, and 180-gram (Audiophiles ‘R’ Us) see-through vinyl (what what?!). It is, as the youth would have it, sweet. Just click here to order. Thank you as always for your support, and have a restorative and restful time with friends and family during the holidays!