Pioneering vocal octet Roomful of Teeth will release its eponymous debut album October 30th on New Amsterdam Records. Founded in 2009 by director Brad Wells, the ensemble consists of eight classically trained vocalists dedicated to re-imagining singing in the 21st century. Through their study with vocal masters of singing traditions from all over the globe–including Tuvan throat singing, belt and pop techniques, yodeling, Inuit throat singing, and styles from Sardinia and Korea–Roomful of Teeth boasts an astounding dexterity that makes it “unlike anything you’ve ever seen before” (WBUR Boston).
Roomful of Teeth’s debut album spotlights seven of today’s brightest composers, each of whom taps into the singers’ astounding range of vocal sounds with elegance and power. A listener can drop into any track and, within seconds, realize that this is a truly singular ensemble unleashing one of the most original approaches to vocal music heard in years. Furthermore, the already dazzling performances are enhanced by the sure hand of Grammy-winning producer Jesse Lewis.
From the neo-alpine yodel on Rinde Eckert’s “Cesca’s View” to Caleb Burhans’s stirring post-minimalist take on bel canto singing in “No”, the album breathes fresh life into the a cappella landscape. One of this generation’s most dynamic vocal talents, Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, contributes two electrifying songs that explore a range of world-inspired grooves. African pygmy yodels, Inuit rhythmic pulsing, Appalachian hymn tunes, and bracing Eastern European belting all filter through Garbus’s powerful compositional voice. Composer-to watch Caroline Shaw uses her insider vantage as a Roomful of Teeth vocalist to create four sonically exquisite and emotionally charged journeys through the ensemble’s soundworld.
New Amsterdam co-directors William Brittelle, Judd Greenstein, and Sarah Kirkland Snider contribute as well: Brittelle’s daring “Amid the Minotaurs” pushes and pulls before opening into a heart-stopping soprano solo; Snider’s otherworldly “The Orchard” intertwines haunting vocals with the text of poet Nathaniel Bellows; and Greenstein’s three pieces explore the group’s polyphony at its most lively, tender, and affectin. Altogether, the album is a 13-piece showcase of this adventurous ensemble’s staggering range, resulting in an entirely unforgettable listening experience.
As annual residents at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), winners of the 2010 American Prize, and three-time headliners in the celebrated NYC-based Ecstatic Music Festival, Roomful of Teeth is becoming renowned for bringing audiences to their feet with its vibrant performances of all-new music.
The album was produced, recorded, and mixed by Jesse Lewis and recorded at the DiMenna Center in New York, NY in November 2011. The group will celebrate the release with a performance in NYC this fal , followed by a East Coast tour in the spring of 2013.