2021 #48 (Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gil Kalish)
Remember ‘Caroline Shaw: Narrow Sea‘ at #48? Yeah, I know, that was a bit of a while back now. Jesus, I spoil you ingrates with three posts in three days over the weekend and now you’re expecting daily updates?? I do have a job, you know?? Sure, it’s only a flat fee per month to suck Paul Scholes’s daughter’s toes whenever he’s too busy to satisfy her, but it’s an honest job God dammit! Anyway, remember that album? That was a bit of a bop, wasn’t it? But you know what it was missing that would make it that little bit better?
That’s right: Caroline Shaw.
Caroline Shaw is, thankfully, just about older than me, so I’ve no need to feel ashamed at all at my comparatively more modest record of achievements. I’m just confident that I’ll be able to catalogue a similar list in about eighteen months when I’m as old as she is now. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for her ‘Partita for 8 Voices’, when she was only thirty years old, the youngest ever recipient of the award. Kendrick Lamarr had to wait until he was thirty one to win it for 2018’s ‘DAMN‘, Bob Dylan didn’t win it until he was a crinkly and mumbly sixty seven, while George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Aretha Franklin – the utter wasters that they are – didn’t get it until they were dead! Ultra cringe. I feel so bad for them. What was I doing at age thirty? Similar stuff. Yeah. Pretty similar. Basically the same, I just have enough self-belief and am confident enough in my own skin not to pathetically shout about awards for distinguished musical compositions of significant dimensions like it grants me some sort of validation. Ultra cringe. I feel so bad for her.
If you fancy some added integration with the wider Necessary Evil 2021 Blogomatic Universe/NE2021BU™, then Caroline Shaw also notably provided work for #40 Kanye West‘s albums ‘The Life of Pablo‘ and ‘Ye‘. She even contributed vocals to a version of ‘…Pablo’s Only Ones, which – Kanye being Kanye being fucking Kanye – was never actually released. That’s great and all, but I wrote blog posts about both of those albums – and many more, actually – so my achievements are arguably more significant, and I’m not desperately attempting to prove my worth by going on about it all the time and having information on my Wikipedia page like the most pathetic Pick-Me. Ultra cringe. I feel so bad for her.
I’ll stop mentioning Kanye at some point on this list. One assumes.
Ms Shaw’s most famous and renowned work, that aforementioned Pulitzer Pumping ‘Partita for 8 Voices‘, was a wondrous acapella work, with many voices (no way of knowing how many) gliding over and intertwining with each other to create a gorgeous 25 minute piece, so it’s strange to think that ‘Let the Soil Play its Simple Part’ is Caroline Shaw’s first album to feature herself on vocals. Are they even called ‘albums’ in the classical world? The first movement to feature her voice. The first piece. First collection. Thing. Whatever, here it is, front and centre, and fabulous, darling. But ‘Soil…’ is far more than Shaw’s gorgeous lilt, it’s at least as recognisable a work by the outstanding quartet Sō Percussion, and the combination of the talents here can often be spellbinding. That umlaut in Sō, yeah? How does that mean you pronounce the name? Is it like ‘Sue Percussion’? Like the name of a lovely if a little administratively eager middle aged woman that you know from accounts and drunkenly snogged at last year’s office Christmas party? I prefer to think of it as a really empathised ‘so’. Like, how would you describe the band? Aw, dude, they are so percussion, yeah? Jump in any time, these are good topics.
The most important fact about Caroline Shaw though, and one that I could never live up to, is that her great great grandfather and great great grand…uncle…? are Chang and End Bunker. Yeah, that’s right! The original Siamese Twins!! They were actually part Siamese, so the phrase for conjoined twins wasn’t quite as problematic as it would later be! That’s just amazing, I have no jokes here to undermine that fact. Ultra lit. I feel so good for her.