An absolute marvel, from Week-End Records comes the first ever vinyl release of two of Julius Eastman's most important works, 1973’s “Stay on It” and 1981’s “The Holy Presence of Joan D‘Arc.” Whether regarded as a pairing - the first being among his earliest performed compositions, and the second among his last - or viewed on their own, these works illuminate the vast scope and distance traveled across Eastman's musical quest for freedom. Recorded by two stellar ensembles under the composer's direction, now pressed in a limited edition of 500 vinyl copies, rarely have we heard such perfect balance of the composer's rage and joy.
In 1973, Stay on It turned the coordinates of avant-garde music on its head. It is minimal, but unashamedly groovy; it is open to improvisation, grants performers all the freedom they could need, but it isn’t jazz and never slips into the non-committal. It is open to theatrical and performative elements, but also to poetic-lyrical ones.
Cut to 1981. Julius Eastman releases The Holy Presence of Joan d‘Arc. Where has the lightness gone? The relationship to pop music? The love for the musicians who have to develop the piece during its performance? It sounds like heavy metal: forceful, dark, urgent, sawing—and then plaintive, heartbreaking.