Sylvan Esso Releases Surprise EP ‘Soundtrack For MASS MoCA’

Take advantage of today's Bandcamp Friday promotion by purchasing the five-track EP.

By Scott Bernstein Oct 1, 2021 11:26 am PDT

Today, Sylvan Esso issued Soundtrack For MASS MoCA, a surprise EP featuring modular and ambient music the duo consisting of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn prepped for listening events at the North Adams, Massachusetts museum. Soundtrack For MASS MoCA is available for streaming and purchase via Bandcamp this Bandcamp Friday, a day in which the company waives its revenue share on sales.

Meath and Sanborn will donate proceeds from the five-track EP to Imagine Water Works, “a New Orleans organization with a focus based in areas of climate justice, water management, and disaster readiness and response.” Soundtrack For MASS MoCA arrives just over one year after the release of the latest Sylvan Esso full-length studio album, Free Love and upon the recent completion of the first leg of the pair’s fall tour.

Nick Sanborn shared the following in regards to the EP:

Comprised mainly of four long form improvisations (with track breaks added at what felt like natural points) recorded in the fall of 2020 using and reprocessing sounds from ‘What Now’ and ‘Free Love’ – notably a pitched down and reimagined version of latter’s centerpiece song ‘Free’, a piano piece improvised and recorded backstage at the museum itself, as well as many collaged voice memos, field recordings, and stray bits of stuff – ‘Soundtrack for MASS MoCA’ now feels like a real snapshot of that time in our band to me. Stuck inside and searching for a way to connect to our own work without the (what I had finally come to realize as) essential finalizing process of playing in front of other people, I was feeling both frozen in conventions of my own making and the need to redefine the way I experienced the act of making something in the first place. So with MASS MoCA’s (very generous) deadline on the horizon, over the course of about six weeks I would regularly put together a small system of instruments and sounds that felt right in the moment, and just start recording without too much forethought. It freed me up to find a new way of playing, refining ideas I had been trying out during occasional solo sets and combining them with things Amelia and I had been doing together as Sylvan Esso. These sessions eventually led to a complete redesign of our live touring rig (something we hadn’t done since the beginning of the band) incorporating all the freedom and wildness I found here within the more inherently structured SE show patch, rethinking ways to make the show more flexible and immediate. Listening back now, it feels like the beginning of this whole new chapter. As always, thank you for listening.

Stream/purchase Sylvan Esso’s Soundtrack For MASS MoCA EP below:

Soundtrack For MASS MoCA Tracklist

  1. part 1
  2. part 2 [free]
  3. part 3
  4. part 4
  5. part 5 [mass]
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