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Raul da Gama
The WholeNote, August 2020

The eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’ poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird describes metaphorical antecedents of the dizzying exploits of the ensemble Eighth Blackbird who make music by means of “…noble accents/and inescapable rhythms…” While not strictly speaking a vocal recording, the album, Singing in the Dead of Night, is certainly creatively and evocatively a singing one. Although it is David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon of the formidable group Bang on a Can, who have splintered the iconic Beatles song, Blackbird, by reimagining it in five fractured segments of the original lyric in a somewhat darker realm than its original creation, Eighth Blackbird must also be credited with its most magical reconstruction. Instruments—specifically the exquisite manner in which they have been played—don’t simply recreate the whispers, murmurs, moans and groans of the human voice as well as the proverbial flutterings of the blackbird of the Beatles song, but, in fact, propel the music into a proverbial orbit. © 2020 The WholeNote

Andrew Clements
The Guardian, July 2020

Three Bang on a Can composers tease lines from a Beatles song into sparky, fierce, unpredictable works, played with exuberance

It’s more than 30 years now since composers, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon and David Lang founded the new-music collective Bang on a Can, which through its commissions and performances has become one of the most vital forces in American contemporary music

The three composers made movement an integral part of these pieces, inviting the choreographer Susan Marshall to work with the players, and in deference to the group’s name, took the titles of their individual contributions from lines in one of the most beautiful of all Beatles songs, Blackbird. The visual aspects are of course lost on disc, but played with such fabulous precision and exuberance by the Blackbirds, the three works still stand up very well indeed, both individually and in sequence. © 2020 The Guardian Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, July 2020

The program consists of three works by present day composers. All receive world premiere recordings. We begin with These Broken Wings by David Lang, which is heard on Tracks 1, 3, and 5, interspersed with The Light of the Dark by Michael Gordon (Tr.2) and Singing in the Dead of Night by Julia Wolfe (Tr.4).

Much credit goes to Cedille’s great production team of producer Elaine Martone, recording engineer Bill Maylone, production assistant Jeanne Velonis, and mastering engineer Michael Bishop, all names we’ve had occasion to recognize in the past. © 2020 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, June 2020

The Eighth Blackbird sextet collaborate with the composers for this three-work program meant to be played together in the order given. The ensemble excels in performing such music as one of the very finest of New Music chamber groups out there today. Each of the titles are taken from the Beatles song lyrics for “Blackbird” and subsequently tie meaningfully into the Eighth Blackbird’s essential relation to the musical sequence.

It is a distinctive forward step in the New Modern-Post Era. It emerges without undue effort, naturally and without pretense. Highly recommended. © 2020 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review, June 2020

The new Cedille release of Singing in the Dead of Night is thus more of a take-home piece of memorabilia for listeners who have seen the production as a totality than it is a satisfying experience on a purely musical basis. It is important to have the right mindset for the whole thing—to know, for example, that Eighth Blackbird is a six-person ensemble, not an eight-person one, because its name was taken from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Such esoterica may not be absolutely integral to audience enjoyment of what Eighth Blackbird does, but the extra-musical matters do help clarify the ensemble’s thinking and intent… © 2020 Read complete review

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