The Squid's Ear Magazine

Liederkreis (Judith Berkson): Liederkreis [VINYL] <i>[Used Item]</i> (B. Walter Recordings)

NYC vocalist, composer and keyboardist Judith Berkson in the debut album for her one-woman band Liederkreis (translating to "song-cycle", a reference to Schumann), taking a sharp turn from previous work through experimental synth, voice and effects in unique and often aberrant ways.

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Judith Berkson-voice, synthesizer

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Label: B. Walter Recordings
Catalog ID: 101
Squidco Product Code: 27688

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2016
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at The Thousand Caves in Queens, New York, by Colin Marston.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.
Overstock copy, new mint quality, never played.

"NYC keyboardist, singer and composer Judith Berkson has made a bold musical move with her one-woman-band Liederkreis, which is radically different than her two solo albums, Lu-Lu and Oylam, released under her own name.

While Lu-Lu had a relatively conventional voice/keyboard approach in showtune/jazz-standard territory, Oylam (on the noted ECM label) pushed further to include Jewish choral and Yiddish folk music.

Now, with the self-titled debut from Liederkreis, Berkson combines keyboard experimentation, noise, and feedback, and takes inspiration from composer Robert Schumann and German electronic music. The only real constant across these three albums is that each includes a classic Lied-a German song poem-demonstrating Berkson's love for the centuries-old genre.

The album begins with puzzling clip-clop sounds before piercing feedback and severely distorted chords enter the picture, creating an unyieldingly harsh yet compelling piece. "June" pairs vocal outbursts with keyboard zaps, with irregular lengths of silence to create an unusual tension, perhaps evoking some kind of shock-based torture method applied to a small choir.

The slightly sinister "Bela" offers an electric piano riff played over a looped synth abstraction, while the pummeling bizarro-funk of "ISI" uses a stuttering drum kit sample and a single keyboard chord mostly played in unison with the bass drum to give it an extra punch.

Liederkreis translated means "song cycle," and in this case, it refers to Robert Schumann's "Liederkreis, Op. 39" from which the song "Auf einer Burg" ("In a Castle") is taken. The album's most conventional track, it features Berkson singing in German with a solemn beauty accompanied by electric piano, describing an aging knight sitting in solitude, separated from nature and human celebrations.

Liederkreis is a curveball for those who know Berkson's cantorial work or her takes on well-known standards, but for this writer, it's her most intriguing and stimulating album so far with an uncompromising vision"-Ernie Paik, Chattanooga Pulse

Get additional information at Chattanooga Pulse

Artist Biographies

"Judith Berkson is a soprano, pianist and composer living in Brooklyn, New York.

She studied voice with Lucy Shelton and composition with Joe Maneri at the New England Conservatory.

She has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Wet Ink, Yarn/Wire and City Opera and has presented work at Picasso Museum Malaga, Roulette, Le Poisson Rouge, Joe's Pub, The Stone, Barbès and the 92 Street Y. She has received a Six Points Fellowship, a Jerome Foundation grant, Meet The Composer grant and support from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her solo album "Oylam" (ECM Records) was called "Standards and Schubert and liturgical music, swing and chilly silences, a beautiful Satie-like piece to open and close the record" by Ben Ratliff of the New York Times."

-Judith Berkson Website (

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Track Listing:


1. Liederkreis lives 04:36

2. June 04:05

3. Rkkr 03:48

4. Bela 03:46

5. July 04:08


1. ISI 04:49

2. yyy 03:49

3. Auf einer Burg 03:58

4. D83 04:01

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Compositional Forms
Electroacoustic Composition
Sound, Noise, &c.
Piano & Keyboards
Unusual Vocal Forms
Solo Artist Recordings
Used CD Alphabetic List
Used CDs

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B. Walter Recordings.

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