Boomkat Product Review:
A spellbinding, unreleased Julius Eastman piece for 4 voices, ‘Macle’ (1971) emerges in the vital first batch from Jack Callahan’s Flea label, with all label profits from sales going to the Williamsburg Music Center - Brooklyn’s only Black-run non-profit jazz venue, run by Julius’ brother, Gerry.
Already sold out at source, ‘Macle’ forms a rare new addition to Julius Eastman’s small but radical catalogue which, until relatively recently, remained sorely unsung in the contemporary classical and downtown NYC minimalist scene that he helped develop alongside peers such as Arthur Russell during the ’60s to the early ‘80s, before his death in 1990.
Along with the reissues of his revolutionary ‘Gay Guerilla’ and ‘Feminine’ in recent years, plus the must-have ‘Unjust Malaise’ set and modern interpretations of his work by Apartment House, this unarchived edition of 1971’s ‘Macle’ helps to deepen and broaden the enigma of Eastman’s oeuvre with a 21 minute work for vocals that freely works with conventions of avant-garde vocal works, while playfully incorporating fragmented aspects of jazz, rock and pop, not to mention some far more unexpected inclusions.
In some senses the work echoes his puckered chamber works on 1973’s ‘Eight Songs For a Mad King’, but the piece is ultimately singularly wayward and a remarkable, overdue glimpse of outright genius at play.