The Squid's Ear Magazine

McLaughlin, Elijah Ensemble: III [VINYL w/ DOWNLOAD] (Astral Spirits)

The third album in Chicago 6- & 12-string guitarist Elijah McLaughlin's numbered album series of original compositions, rich flowing works of lyrical textures augmented with environmental field recordings and tape loops, performed with Jason Toth on upright bass, Katinka Kleijn on cello, effects, Joel Styzens on hammered Dulcimer and Adler Scheidt on piano.

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product information:

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS209LP
Squidco Product Code: 33203

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at the Fine Arts Building Studio, in Chicago, Illinois, by Jared Rodriguez.


Elijah McLaughlin-6 guitar, 12 string guitar, analog synths, effects, tape loops, field recordings

Jason Toth-upright bass

Katinka Kleijn-cello, effects

Joel Styzens-hammered Dulcimer

Adler Scheidt-piano

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble III is an album full of shimmering harmonic atmospheres. It's emblematic of the Chicago-based ensemble, whose music explores the textures and resonances of their string instruments, namely six and 12-string guitar (Elijah McLaughlin), upright bass (Jason Toth), and hammered dulcimer (Joel Styzens). Throughout Elijah McLaughlin III, they expand their usual palette by including analog synths, field recordings, and melodies from guest musicians cellist Katinka Kleijn and pianist Adler Scheidt. The group taps into overtone sequences made from sonic tapestries, following the music where it wants to go. Intuition is a key part of their work: McLaughlin's music allows room for his collaborators to branch out and bring their own sonic imprint to the compositions. They listen to each other, letting each voice shine, and finding new textures and sounds together.

The field recordings that appear throughout Elijah McLaughlin III come from the driftless region of western Wisconsin, where McLaughlin annually goes fly fishing with his dad on the streams that feed into the Mississippi. He was struck by the bustling sounds of nature that live there, so he decided to document the sound of the area on his Zoom field recorder. He brought his seven-year-old son along with him, watching him explore the environment and make his own recordings of it. His son's recording appears on "Braided River"-a gush of water that swooshes alongside glowing synths and string vibrations.

In addition to these field recordings, Kleijn's cello offers its own new textures. Her sound veers away from conventional cello tone, employing the extended possibilities of the instrument. The two connected after McLaughlin saw her perform in Chicago; they spent an afternoon in the studio together improvising off of McLaughlin's blueprints. Her exploratory style colors each track she's on: The album's meditative opener "Intro," for example, features her echoing cello adrift above pillowy electronics, occasionally slicing through the cloud of sound with razor-edged bowings. On "Parallax," her cello darts in-between McLaughlin's fingerpicked guitar, bolstering its sound with swarming tremolos and sweet melodies, and on the serene "Point of Departure," her cello floats like a sailboat on a gentle sea.

Drones have always been a character within the ensemble's music, but on "Coloring of the Lake/Sky," the three-part suite on the album's second side, they take center stage. McLaughlin loves listening to the work of 20th century minimalists, and Terry Riley's work particularly captivated him as he worked on this album. The piece grows from a series of short phrases, layering them and intertwining tiny blocks of material to expand and change. Like many of the ensemble's recording sessions, McLaughlin came with an overall structure and general conception of the 3-part suite, and the ensemble ran with it, looping and interlacing each phrase.

Like a minimalist work or, more metaphorically, the tides, the music of "Coloring of the Lake/Sky" ebbs and flows between ecstatic rhythmic patterns. You can listen to the piece as a whole, following the drastic contours of the music, or zero in on any one instrument: McLaughlin's rhythmic strums converse with Scheidt's Charlemagne Palestine-esque piano vibrations, while Toth's spun-out upright bass riffs on top. It's energetic music, even in the moments of pause. Tracks like this one feel like a psychedelic celebration, but there's also a sense of warmth and meditation in the group's textures. And at its heart, their music captures the feeling of enjoying the vast beauty of the world around you."-Vanessa Ague

Artist Biographies

Elijah McLaughlin is a Chicago 12 and 6 string guitarist and composer, leader of the Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble.

-Elijah McLaughlin Website (

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

"Hailed as "Chicago's first lady of the cello" by Timeout Chicago Magazine, Dutch cellist Katinka Kleijn defies today's traditional definition of a cellist, transitioning comfortably through the styles of classical, experimental, contemporary, improvisatory, folk and progressive rock, as well as across the traditional fields of solo, chamber and orchestral performance.

Most recently, she appeared as soloist in the World Premiere of Dai Fujikura's cello concerto at Lincoln Center, New York, where The New York Times described her as "a player of formidable expressive gifts".

A member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Kleijn is in frequent demand as soloist, performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Charles Dutoit in Penderecki's Triple Cello Concerto, as well as with the The Hague Philharmonic, the Chicago Sinfonietta , the Illinois Philharmonic, the Symphony Orchestras of Elmhurst, DuPage and Sheboygan, and as a soloist in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Kai on the CSO's MusicNOW Series.

Known for her innovative individual projects, Kleijn presented multi-media solo shows at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Chicago Cultural Center. A collaboration with the Chicago-based performance art duo Industry of the Ordinary resulted in the highly-acclaimed and publicized work "Intelligence in the Human-Machine" by Daniel Dehaan, which Time Magazine called "a balancing act for Kleijn's whole body," and where Kleijn performs a duet with her own brainwaves.

In Kleijn's extensive work as a member of the prolific International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), named Ensemble of the Year 2014 by Musical America, she has given numerous premieres, including the US premiere of Zona for solo cello and ensemble by Magnus Lindberg at the Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, and Eternal Escape for solo cello by Dai Fujikura, described by the Chicago Tribune's John von Rhein as "a five-minute tour de force, played with wonderfully incisive bravado."

An avid chamber musician, Kleijn has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Christoph Eschenbach, Richard Goode, and Lynn Harrell; and appeared in the Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music Series with pianist Jeremy Denk and violinist Stefan Jackiw. She has performed at the Marlboro Music Festival and Ravinia Festival's Rising Star Series. Kleijn was a member of the Chicago Chamber Musicians from 2006-2010.

Kleijn recorded for the Naxos, Boston Record and Cedille labels. Her 2003 recording of David Baker's Cello Concerto with the Chicago Sinfonietta received rave reviews: The Strad Magazine wrote "Kleijn gives infectious energy to the performance" and Fanfare Magazine commented that "Kleijn brings plenty of temperament and gorgeous tone."

Non-classical recordings include CD's with the progrock metal band District 97, the ambient-folk duo Relax Your Ears, singer-song writer David Sylvian, and for the newest single "Valkyrie" by Asia with John Wetton. She is part of a working improvised music duo with Chicago-based guitarist Bill MacKay, and performs on the Chicago free jazz scene."

-Katinka Kleijn Website (

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

"Joel Styzens is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and hearing conservation advocate specializing in drums, percussion, guitar, piano and hammered dulcimer. Styzens has toured Internationally in Switzerland and Germany and has been featured on NPR, Chicago's Nationally syndicated WGN news, and in such publications as Time Out, the National Examiner and the UK Hearing Times."

-Relax Your Ears (

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

Track Listing:


1. Intro (feat. Katinka Kleijn) 01:05

2. Headwaters 02:15

3. Parallax (feat. Katinka Kleijn) 04:03

4. Tributary 01:55

5. Point of Departure (feat. Katinka Kleijn) 07:07

6. Braided River (feat. Katinka Kleijn) 02:50


1. Coloring of Lake/Sky 18:32

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Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Stringed Instruments
Guitarists, &c.
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Quintet Recordings
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