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Johnson, Scott: Mind Out of Matter (Tzadik)

Five years in the making, composer Scott Johnson transcribed the speech of philosopher Daniel C. Dennett (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) into this extended, 8-movement suite, using a rich, detailed set of musical landscapes blending musical genres that run in parity with the voice of Dennett, as Johnson emphasizes and highlight his insightful thinking.

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product information:

UPC: 702397402121

Label: Tzadik
Catalog ID: CD-TZA-4021
Squidco Product Code: 25391

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at EastSide Sond, in New York, New York, by Eric Elterman and MArc Urselli.


Scott Johnson-composer

Daniel C. Dennett-voice

Alarm Will Sound-ensemble

Miles Brown-double bass, electric bass, voice

Caleb Burhans-violin, electric guitar, voice

David Byrd-Marrow-french horn, voice

Michael Clayville-trombone, voice

Stefan Freund-cello, voice

Michael Harley-bassoon, voice

Sam Jones-trumpet

Erin Lesser-flute, piccolo

John Orfe-piano, keyboard

Courtney Orlando-violin, triangle, voice

Alan Pierson-conductor

Luke Rinderknecht-percussion, voice

Christa Robinson-oboe

Nadia Sirota-viola, shaker, voice

Matt Smallcomb-percussion

Chad Smith-clarinet, saxophone

Elisabeth Stimpert-clarinets

Chris Thompson-drums, percussion

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Artist Biographies:

"Composer Scott Johnson has been a pioneering voice in the new relationship being forged between the classical tradition and the popular culture that surrounds it. A forerunner of today's "postclassical" trends, he has played an influential role since the early 1980's in the incorporation of rock-derived instruments, electronics, and musical materials into traditionally scored compositions. His music has been heard in performances by the Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, and his own ensembles; in dance works performed by the Boston Ballet, the London Contemporary Dance Theater, and the Ballets de Monte Carlo. His music is recorded on the Nonesuch, CRI, Point, and Tzadik labels.

Trained in both music and visual arts at the University of Wisconsin, Johnson's early experiments in combining prerecorded tape and electric instruments culminated in the groundbreaking John Somebody (1980-82), in which the pitches and rhythms of recorded speech became the source material for an accompanying instrumental score; a technique which spread as digital sampling became common in the mid-1980's. Other compositions featuring sampled speech include Mind Out Of Matter, based on the voice of philosopher Daniel Dennett, How It Happens, based on the voice of the journalist I. F. Stone, as well as Convertible Debts, The Value of People and Things, Pact, and Americans, all of which combine voice sampling with electro-acoustic ensembles.

Johnson's scores make extensive use of musical materials and sounds drawn from the American vernacular, and he has often premiered his electric guitar writing himself. He has appeared at festivals, concert halls, and art museums throughout Europe and North America: first with self-performed compositions for solo electric guitar, tape, and electronics; later with an octet made up of a guitar-based rock band with a saxophone trio; followed by an electric quartet of violin, cello, electric guitar, and piano/synthesizer. New York City concert venues for Mr. Johnson's ensembles have included concert halls such as Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Hall, as well as alternative spaces such as The Kitchen and Roulette.

Johnson is the recipient of fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Guggenheim Foundation, a Koussevitsky award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and five grants from the New York State Council on the Arts; as well as grants and commission support from Lincoln Center, New Music USA, the Jerome Foundation, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Concert Artists Guild, and the Mary Flagler Cary Trust. His commissioned works include Mind Out Of Matter for Alarm Will Sound, Stalking Horse for the American Composer's Orchestra, Bowery Haunt and Last Time Told for the Cygnus Ensemble, The Illusion of Guidance for the Bang On A Can All-Stars, How It Happens and Bird in the Domes for the Kronos Quartet; I Am New York City for soprano Dora Ohrenstein (premiered by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), the score for Paul Schrader's film Patty Hearst, and Before Winter, recorded for the Boston Ballet by Mr. Johnson's own ensemble.

Johnson's own concert appearances include Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the Japan Society, the Lincoln Center Festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, Yale University, the Schleswig-Holstien Festival, a chamber concert with members of the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's "Great Day In New York" series. Johnson has also published articles and essays on contemporary music, one of which is excerpted in Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin's "Music In The Western World." He has lectured on his music and ideas at leading conservatories and universities, including San Francisco and Peabody Conservatories, Senzaku Ongaku Daigaku, New York University, The Manhattan School of Music, and Yale University."

-Scott Johnson Website (

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"As a soloist, and chamber musician Erin has been described as "superb", "excellent", "brilliant" and "elegant". She has travelled to prestigious venues around the world including Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ (Amsterdam) and Alice Tully Hall where she performed the American premiere of Morton Feldman's For Flute and Orchestra with the Jancek Philharmonic. She has worked with some of the most prominent classical and popular artists today including Steve Reich, Beat Furrer, Helmut Lachenmann, Pierre Boulez, John Luther Adams, Charles Wuorinen, and David Lang, and experimental groups like Medeski Martin and Wood, and the Dirty Projectors. As a recording artist, Erin can be heard on Nonesuch, Cantaloupe, Carrier, Hat[now] Art, New Focus, Aeon, New Amsterdam, Albany and Capstone Record labels.

Erin is a founding member of the Argento Chamber Ensemble and was featured on the group's award winning recording Winter Fragments; music of Tristan Murail. Erin is also a member of Alarm Will Sound, a group that has been awarded the ASCAP Concert Music Award for "the virtuosity, passion and commitment with which they perform and champion the repertory for the 21st century" and which has been called the "future of classical music" by the New York Times. She is also a member of Wet Ink, a group that has been described as "thought-provoking and expansive and fearless in testing the limitations of what instruments or musical forms can be." She won the 2008 National Flute Association chamber music competition with her flute and percussion duo, Due East.

Lesser completed a two-year fellowship with The Academy, a program run by Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute. She is now a member of Decoda, an affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall, whose work often takes them beyond the concert hall and into the broader community.

A graduate of the University of Ottawa (BM) and the Manhattan School of Music (MM, DMA), Erin is proud to serve on the faculty at Lawrence University. Through a partnership between Lawrence University and Decoda, Erin is co-founder of Music for All, a program which brings music into new and/or underserved venues throughout the Fox Valley community in Wisconsin."

-Erin Lesser Website (

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"Chad Gaylord Smith (born October 25, 1961) is an American musician who has been the drummer of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers since 1988. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Smith is also the drummer of the hard rock supergroup Chickenfoot, formed in 2008, and of the all-instrumental outfit Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats, formed in 2007.

Smith has recorded with Glenn Hughes, Johnny Cash, John Fogerty, the Dixie Chicks, Jennifer Nettles, Kid Rock, Jake Bugg, the Avett Brothers, Joe Satriani, Post Malone, Lana Del Rey and Halsey. In 2010, joined by Dick Van Dyke and Leslie Bixler, he released Rhythm Train, a children's album which featured Smith singing and playing various instruments. In 2020, Smith co-wrote and performed as part of the backing band on Ozzy Osbourne's album, Ordinary Man.

Spin magazine placed Smith at #10 on their list of the "100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music" in May 2013. Readers of UK-based Rhythm magazine ranked Smith and Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea the fourth-greatest rhythm section of all time in their June 2013 issue. Smith is also known for his charity work especially with young musicians. He has been a lobbyist in support of music education in U.S. public schools. Smith is also the host of the PBS concert series, Landmarks Live in Concert, which began in January 2017."

-Wikipedia (

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track listing:

1. Cow Design 8:08

2. Invisible Agents 8:50

3. Winners 3:19

4. Good for Itself 5:45

5. Stewards 5:43

6. Surrender 26:47

7. Path Up 4:34

8. Awe 10:23
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Another masterwork by one of Americas true mavericks Scott Johnson, a composer/ performer who works slowly and meticulously crafts every detail. A new work from him is truly a cause for celebration and this sprawling, extended 74-minute eight movement suite marks the culmination of his pioneer work transcribing speech into musical melodies. Here recordings of philosopher Daniel C. Dennett are set in lush and colorful musical landscapes that brilliantly mix pop sensibilities with classical rigor. A labor of love and five years in the making, this is one of Scott's greatest creations, successfully synthesizing opposing musical inheritances into an exciting new language."-Tzadik

"Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science.

As of 2017, he is the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Dennett is an atheist and secularist, a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, and a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. Dennett is referred to as one of the "Four Horsemen of New Atheism", along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens."-Wikipedia

Related Categories of Interest:


Compositional Forms
Large Ensembles
Spoken Word
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
New in Compositional Music

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