Battle Trance: Blade of Love
Battle Trance's sophomore album
Blade of Love
out August 26
"mesmerizing...a floating tapestry of fascinating textures made up of tiny musical motifs, and a music that throbs with tension between stillness and agitation, density and light."
- New York Times on Battle Trance
Tenor saxophone quartet Battle Trance is proud to announce the release of their sophomore album Blade of Love, available today on on New Amsterdam Records, and with a vinyl edition available on NNA Tapes. The follow-up to their widely acclaimed debut Palace of Wind (2014), Blade of Love is an elemental composition that aims to fulfill the tenor saxophone's expansive potential as an ensemble instrument. Working within the intimate intersection of the human body/breath and the saxophone, Blade of Love is a spiritual and enigmatic work with a deep emotional resonance.
The album has already received praise from multiple press outlets, with NPR Music recognizing the first selection from the recording as one of their "Songs We Love," acclaiming it as "a fierce piece" and "one that demands attention," and Pitchfork also recently reviewed the record, concluding that it "shows that there’s plenty of sax-quartet innovation left for these artists to explore." In addition, Q2 Music has featured Blade of Love as their currentAlbum of the Week, describing it as "three corpulent tracks fusing bleary chord nebulae, scorching rhythmic bursts, and vulnerable incantations into a philosophic, aural aphrodisiac." The Wire has also praised the record, stating that "Laplante's compositions for Battle Trance capitalise not only on proximities of pitch and tone, but interpersonal cohesion."
To celebrate the album's release, Battle Trance will launch a national tour this fall, including a performance at Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, NC on September 8 and at NYC's St. Peter's Church on September 22. All dates for the tour listed below.
Since forming in 2012, the four saxophonists in Battle Trance (Travis Laplante, Patrick Breiner, Matt Nelson, Jeremy Viner) have spent hundreds of hours deepening their musical connection with each other, maturing as an ensemble through relentless touring everywhere from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Montreal to Vancouver, and most places in between.
The three movements of Blade of Love were composed by Battle Trance leader Travis Laplante in a wooden room with soaring ceilings in the Vermont forest, after spending two years of rigorous rehearsals working to perfect the array of extended techniques, both virtuosic and primal, required to bring the challenging piece to life.
Blade of Love's central focus is on the physical and spiritual intersection of the saxophone and the human body. The saxophone is one of the few instruments that literally enters the body of the person playing it, and Blade of Love is a medium for this sacred meeting place, with each member of Battle Trance using the saxophone as a vessel for the human spirit.
Singing has an inherent power, but that power is heightened in the context of Blade of Love. At times, the four players sing while exhaling through the saxophone tubes, using the instrument's keys to shift the timbre of their voices. Laplante also integrates non-traditional mouth articulations, using the saxophone as a resonant chamber for these inventive sounds. Laplante explains:
"There were certain specific sounds that I imagined being in Blade of Love, but I couldn't get close enough to them using traditional saxophone tone — sounds like arrows flying through the air, birds singing or flying overhead, bombs, water running, the wind, campfires, singing in church, making love, killing, waves crashing, fighting for your life, thunder, the sound of rage, howling, crying, laughing, the sound of my last breath… So I began working on different ways for the saxophone to get closer to these sounds, and the resulting techniques became part of the fabric of Blade of Love."
Travis Laplante describes composing Blade of Love as "the most torturous and demanding compositional experience of my life." He continues: "It's painful for me to try to explain what this music 'means,' because in a sense it has no meaning — and at the same time, it means everything. I just hope Blade of Love will release something in both the listener and the performer's hearts. It doesn't ask for anything in return."
Blade of Love track list:
1. Blade of Love I
2. Blade of Love II
3. Blade of Love III
Battle Trance Tour Dates:
9/6 - Charter Arts - Bethlehem, PA
9/7 - Iris Gallery - Richmond, VA
9/9 - Black Mountain College - Asheville, NC
9/8 - Hopscotch Music Festival - Raleigh, NC
9/10 - FMRL - Nashville, TN
9/11 - Eyedrum - Atlanta, GA
9/12 - McColl Center - Charlotte, NC
9/13 - Songbyrd Music House - Washington, DC
9/22 - St. Peter's Church - New York, NY
10/6 - Bop Stop - Cleveland, OH
10/7 - Fuse Factory - Columbus, OH
10/8 - The Artifex Guild - Bloomington, IN
10/9 - First Congregational Church - Kalamazoo, MI
10/10 - Gates of Heaven - Madison, WI
10/11 - Englert Theater - Iowa City, IA
10/12 - Bay View United Methodist Church - Milwaukee, WI
10/13 - Constellation - Chicago, IL
10/15 - Trinosophes - Detroit, MI