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Parkins, Zeena / Jeff Kolar: Scale [VINYL] (Two Rooms Records)

Commissioned by choreographer Jennifer Monson, the collaboration of Downtown NY electric harpist and sound artist Zeena Parkins and Chicago sound artist Jeff Kolar explore the intersection of acoustic phenonema against electronic, synthetic & radio sounds, inspired by the timing of natural phenomena like ocean currents and daylight emergence; fascinating.

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product information:

Label: Two Rooms Records
Catalog ID: TR005LP
Squidco Product Code: 29560

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Parkins recorded at Office Studio, Mills College, in Oakland, California, by Norman Teale.

Kolar recorded in Chicago, Illinois.


Zeena Parkins-acoustic harp, electric harp, forks tuned metal, electronics, field recordings

Jeff Kolar-electronics, radio, voice

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Artist Biographies:

"Multi-instrumentalist/composer/improviser, Zeena Parkins, pioneer of contemporary harp practice and performance, reimagines the instrument as a "sound machine of limitless capacity." Parkins has built three versions of her one-of-a-kind electric harp and has extended the language of the acoustic harp with the inventive use of unusual playing techniques, preparations, and layers of electronic processing.

Inspired and connected to visual arts, dance, film, and history, Zeena follows a unique path in creating her compositional works. Through blending and morphing of both real and imagined instruments, crafting, recombining, and layering mangled, sliced, massaged or possibly disengaged sounds, drawing from extra-musical sources for unusual scoring and formal constructions as well as utilizing multi-speaker environments, Zeena remains in process with sound as material and music, engaged in translations of sonic states in the concert hall, the black box theater, the dance studio, the recording studio, the classroom, the cinema, the skyscraper, the ocean and the gallery. Zeena has a particularly strong commitment to making scores for dance and continues to re-evaluate the nature and issues of the body's imprint on sound and sound/music's imprint on movement.

Parkins's compositions have been commissioned by NeXtWorks Ensemble, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Roulette Intermedium, The Eclipse Quartet, William Winant, Bang on a Can, The Whitney Museum, The Tate Modern, Montalvo Arts Center, The Donaueschinger Musiktage and Sudwestrundfunk/SWR.

Parkins has released four solo records featuring her electric and acoustic harp playing and has released her compositions and band projects on six Tzadik recordings, with a new Tzadik CD with Ikue Mori and Phantom Orchard Orchestra, Trouble in Paradise, to be released in November 2012. As a sought-after collaborator Zeena has worked with: Fred Frith, Björk, Ikue Mori, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Maja Ratkje, Hild Sofie Tafjord, John Zorn, Butch Morris, Chris Cutler, Elliott Sharp, Nels Cline, Alex Cline, William Winant, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Christian Marclay, Matmos, Yasunao Tone, So Percussion, Bobby Previte, Carla Kilhstedt, Tin Hat, James Fei, Kim Gordon, Lee Renaldo and Thurston Moore.

Awards: The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Fellowship, NYFA Music Fellowship, Meet the Composer Commission, NYSCA Composer Commission, Multi-Arts Production Fund Grant, American Music Center, BAFTA award for best interactive media with visual artist Mandy McIntosh and sound artist Kaffe Matthews, Peter S. Reed Fellowship, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust Commissions, Arts International, Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention for Phantom Orchard in the Digital Music category.

Curatorial: Guest curator for The Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria, co-curator of the Movement Research Festival: Sidewinder, in NYC and curator for a month + a week of shows at The Stone in NYC

Residencies: Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, Oxford University, Harvestworks, Steim, Paf: Performing Arts Forum, Wooda Arts Residency, Montalvo Arts Center, RPI/iEAR and The Watermill Center.

Teaching: Zeena has given lectures at Oxford and Princeton Universities and has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Bard and Mills College. Currently, Zeena is a Distinguished Visiting Professor, at Mills College Graduate Music Department."

-Zeena Parkins Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Jeff Kolar (b. Chicago, Illinois, US) is an independent sound artist, radio producer, and curator working in Chicago, United States. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Radius, an experimental radio broadcast platform established in 2009. His work, described as "speaker-shredding" (Half Letter Press), "wonderfully strange" (John Corbett), and "characteristically curious" (Marc Weidenbaum), activates sound in unconventional, temporary, and ephemeral ways using appropriation and remix as a critical practice. His solo and collaborative projects, installations, and public performances often investigate the mundane sonic nuances of everyday electronic devices.

He has performed and exhibited widely across the United States, and at international venues and festivals such as the New Museum (New York, US), Museum of Arts and Design (New York, US), Moogfest (Durham, North Carolina, US), The Kitchen (New York, US), CTM Festival for Adventurous Music (Berlin, Germany), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, Illinois, US), Kino Šiška (Ljubljana, Slovenia), ORF RadioKulturhaus (Vienna, Austria), Radio Revolten International Radio Art Festival (Halle, Germany), Megapolis Audio Festival (New York, USA), LAK Festival of Nordic Sound Art (København, Denmark), among others.

His work has been reviewed and discussed in international print publications and online platforms such as The New York Times, The Wire Magazine, Red Bull Music Academy and Architect Magazine, and in an array of art, design and music publications including VICE, Art Slant, designboom, and

His work has been commissioned by the Propeller Fund, a re-granting agency of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Wave Farm, a re-granting agency of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), and others. He has delivered lectures at New Adventures in Sound Art (Toronto, Canada), Le Cube Centre de création numérique (Paris, France), Concordia University Topological Media Lab (Montreal, Canada), Parsons Paris School of Art & Design (Paris, France), University of California Santa Cruz, Film & Digital Media Department (Santa Cruz, California, US), Wave Farm Study Center (New York, USA), and led workshops at Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Ecole d'Enseignement Supérieur d'Art de Bordeaux (Bordeaux, France), School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, USA).

His work has been broadcasted internationally on radio stations including ORF Kunstradio (Vienna, Austria), Radia Network, WFMU (New Jersey, USA), Deutschlandradio Kultur (Berlin, Germany), CKUT (Montreal, Canada), Ràdio Web MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain), Vancouver Co-operative Radio CFRO 100.5-FM (Vancouver, Canada), Radio Eterogenia (Córdoba, Argentina), Radio Libertaire (Paris, France), Stress FM (Lisbon, Portugal), WGXC (New York, USA), among others.

His work has been released on a variety of record labels including Panospria + No Type (Canada), H.A.K. Lo-Fi Record (France), free103point9 (US), Amigos Publishing (US), and has appeared in compilations by, iFAR (England), Phantom Airwaves (US), and Sonic Circuits (US). His video work was published in the DVD journal ASPECT: The Chronicle of New Media Art."

-Jeff Kolar Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:


1. Prologue 9:23

2. Hooking 2:52

3. Pulse 5:34


1. Traveling 13:23

2. Koala 3:01

3. Swiping 4:21
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Scale, addresses issues of observation, embodied transferences, telepathy and duration employing swipes, knocks, resonators and hypnotic patternings on the acoustic harp with the less controllable sounds of radio waves, homemade synths and feedback.

Inspired by the timings and sensations of natural phenomena including daylight's slow emergence at dawn and the pulsing ambiance of ocean currents. Nature as both utopic and disruptive. Attention is situated in an often luscious, contemplative sonic environment that shifts at varying rates from the imperceptible to sudden unexpected bursts.

Co-authored by Parkins and Kolar, this piece was originally commissioned by choreographer Jennifer Monson for her work bend the even and performed live at the famed Chocolate Factory Theater in Queens, NY.

Born in Detroit and based in New York, electro-acoustic composer/improviser Zeena Parkins is a pioneer of contemporary harp practices. Using expanded techniques, object preparations and electronic processing, she has re-defined the instrument's capacities. As a composer, Parkins utilizes recombination, historic proximities, geography, tactility, spatial configurations and movement as the material of her work.

Jeff Kolar is an sound artist, radio producer and curator working in Chicago. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Radius, an experimental radio broadcast platform established in 2009. His work, described as "speaker-shredding" (Half Letter Press), "wonderfully strange" (John Corbett) and "characteristically curious" (Marc Weidenbaum), activates sound in temporary and ephemeral ways using appropriation and remix as a critical practice. His solo and collaborative projects, installations and public performances often investigate the mundane sonic nuances of everyday electronic devices."-Two Rooms

"The new Scale is billed to composer and improvising harpist Zeena Parkins and Chicago sound artist and radio producer Jeff Kolar, but its story involves a larger group of collaborators. In 2017, University of Illinois professor Jennifer Monson (who’s also a choreographer and dancer) commissioned Parkins and Kolar to work with her, dancer Mauriah Kraker, and lighting designer Elliott Cennetoglu on a dance work titled Bend the Even. Initial development took place during predawn outdoor rehearsals in the fields around Urbana, but the group moved their work to Florida beaches after they landed a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Parkins and Kolar’s compositions for Bend the Even were influenced by the choreography of the two-person dance team as well as the ruggedness of the early-morning rehearsals, especially the wintry sessions in Urbana. “It’s sort of like readjusting your eyes and ears, or like sensory deprivation with a long pause of waiting for something to happen,” Kolar told the New York Times. While all the tracks on Scale were initially composed for Bend the Even, the album was recorded and mastered separately from the live performances. The music is a fusion of electronic and electroacoustic elements: on “Hooking,” it’s hard to tell which sounds come from Kolar’s radio gear and handmade electronic instruments and which Parkins creates by manipulating an amplified harp with a scraping bow or a fork tine. It’s easy to imagine audiences at the ensemble’s Bend the Even performances in New York fixating on Kolar and Parkins’s movements and the objects they used to make sound, but when I listen to Scale I find myself thinking the vibrations and other physical phenomena the dancers might’ve experienced while onstage with the duo—especially on “Pulse,” where Parkins’s haunting harp melody is bookended by great big thuds of crashing strings that sound like a piano being pushed down a staircase. Kolar and Parkins’s individual contributions are a bit more identifiable on “Traveling,” which features Kolar’s snippets of radio static and wavy feedback playing double dutch between Parkins’s strummed harp rhythms. The natural world from which the album draws could also be listed as a collaborator on that track: the second half includes recordings of crickets, which create their own kind of feedback and rhythm."-Salem Collo-Julin, Chicago Reader

Also available on CD.

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at The Chicago Reader
Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Stringed Instruments
Electronic Forms
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Duo Recordings
New in Experimental & Electronic Music

Search for other titles on the label:
Two Rooms Records.

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