New music hopefuls need not tunnel their vision to Los Angeles and New York for much longer.
The Austin-based musical collective Density512 is igniting a new music Bat-Signal with the release of their debut EP, “fold in, fold out.” The scaled album showcases three world-premiere recordings, but also serves as an inaugural release for Density 512’s newly established label, DensitySOUND — a new branch of the non-profit that is being poised to connect communities throughout central Texas and wherever-else New Music needs voicing.
“The idea that keeps coming up when we talk about the label is about affecting the environment of new music,” says debut director of DensitySOUND Jordan Walsh. “We’re not surviving but we’re actually thriving in making something meaningful to both us and to an audience without having to compromise just to get on stage.”
“fold in, fold out” is comprised of three pieces by contributing Density 12 collective members Akshaya Avril Tucker, Russell Podgorsek, and Nicholas Perry Clark. Recorded in the fall of 2019, the respective works, “Serenade No. 0,” “Enough, to Unfold,” and Chamber Symphony, were originally presented as part of a live performance of the same name, in which composers showcased and discussed how they work with material and form in the modern era.
Density512’s artistic director, Nicholas Perry Clark, says that the digital premiere of the project as an album — as well as the creation of a music label — was already a work in progress that naturally came to the forefront in light of the post-pandemic, live-performance-lacking world.
“We didn’t really want to do live streams, so instead we decided we’d do a couple projects that could work even if there wasn’t a pandemic,” says Clark. “We’ve been doing a podcast (The Canon is Dead), and we just filmed a documentary (“Remembrance and Ritual: Reflections on Eva and the Angel of Death”), and so this is our next project.”
“fold in, fold out” serves as the first “teaser” venture for DensitySOUND, as Density512 plans on creating and distributing feature albums throughout 2021. In addition to major music labels and now-more established new music labels such as New Amsterdam and Nonesuch Records, DensitySOUND sees its opportunity in establishing the more under-represented voices of new music outside of the genre’s usual geographic epicenters, while also taking advantage of the burgeoning community developing in and around the Texas capitol.
“Our choices on repertoire and what we’re eventually going to put out into the world are really about putting the ‘new’ in new music, to be a little bit poignant about it,” says Walsh.
“Because you know how this scene can be — it is very easy for us to get lost in a perceived cannon. Even within the niche of the new music world, you have people who want to hear the ‘classics.’ And we do a little bit of that, but the things we put on tape, the things we put on this label, the goal is to make it something that is entirely new, or, that has been around but is really underrepresented on the scene that no one’s doing.”
“We’re not looking to record another Beethoven symphony,” says Clark. “When we’re looking at what to record, it’s a matter of has this piece been represented in digital media well, or not at all?”
In creating a music label from the ground up, Walsh and Density512 are becoming accustomed to the increasingly stratified world of digital media distribution. In contrast to the comparatively-simple process of seeking likeness rights for live performances, DensitySOUND is establishing their standards in working with mechanical and release licenses so that they can best serve their communal new music acolytes.
Walsh, whose background is in performing on and producing records, says that navigating these waters has been as challenging as it is fun. Moreover, the discussions Density512 are having in regards to the business organization of DensitySOUND is more than just practical. It is reinforcing Density512’s mission values of creating imaginatively curated experiences while still providing an accessible, reliable, and responsible platform for emerging artists.
“Its very easy to say, ‘we’re making a label,’ and just start making stuff, but you know you have to think about, well, how are we compensating artists? How are we funding and distributing work for visual media? When you say you’re going to do something like this, you kind of take on a responsibility to that artist. So we have to take good care of the people that we want to be supporting — the musicians who work with Density and the musicians who might be coming to us in the future with an idea for a project,” he says.
The new avenues of partnership and possibility that DensitySOUND will make available is going to amplify the breath of new music in Austin and beyond, in places you might not even expect.
Say Walsh: “The way that these platforms have moved, we are going to be on Tiktok in the next couple of days.”