A unique musical collaboration that has roots in Cincinnati will be furthered on a new album project due this summer.
Last April, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (aka Will Oldham), Bryce Dessner (Cincinnati native, guitarist for The National and founder/curator of MusicNOW) and Neo-Classical ensemble Eighth Blackbird teamed up for a special performance at MusicNOW, which ran concurrent to The National's Homecoming music fest on the riverfront.
Dessner had previously brought Oldham to Cincinnati in 2014 to play MusicNOW. Eighth Blackbird was also performing that year and pianist Lisa Kaplan caught Oldham's set.
Oldham and EB worked up an arrangement of New Music composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski's “Coming Together,” which they played at MusicNOW and elsewhere.
That pairing led to more collaboration, which is at the center of a new album set for release in August. When We Are Inhuman features a variety of material, including a live recording of Eighth Blackbird, Oldham and Dessner performing Julius Eastman’s “Stay on It,” which musicologist Matthew Mendez says was influenced by, according to a press release for Inhuman, "a post-Stonewall queer subjectivity, which the composer-performer flaunted; disco hits by Diana Ross, to which Eastman regularly danced at a Buffalo gay bar; and 1970s minimalism, via Eastman’s emphasis on what he called not 'the pulse' but 'the beat.' "
Due via the collective/online platform 37d03d (which includes The National, Bon Iver and many other likeminded artists in that Indie music universe) on Aug. 30, When We Are Inhuman will also feature new arrangements of some of Oldham's songs (like "New Partner" and "One with the Birds") as well as tracks that extend Dessner's "Murder Ballades" series, in which he reworks vingtage Folk music "murder ballads."
Listen to the album's new version of Oldham's "Beast for Thee" below.