Colin Stetson © Richmond Lam for Monheim Triennale
Photo: Colin Stetson © Richmond Lam for Monheim Triennale

Colin Stetson (CA)

Colin Stetson is many. It's hard to explain him any other way. A challenging sax player, happy on bass or alto but also on cornet and French horn. And when you can hear all by himself, without any extras, without any overdubs, it's always Cinemascope: Widescreen cinema telling stories that make you bob along.

Colin Stetson is from Ann Arbor, Michigan. That's where the MC5 (i.e. Wayne Kramer's protopunk) played with Sun Ra (i.e. the cosmic link between 50s doo-wop and adventurous space travel) in the 1960s. And when you look at who Stetson has played music with in recent years – Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Chemical Brothers, Evan Parker, or Hamid Drake – this isn’t possibly just due to his Ann Arbor origins. His world becomes broader and more complex the closer and more closely you look at it. Stetson's distinctive blend of advanced technology, circulatory breathing, overblowing, rattling valves, etc., sounds a kind of symphonic minimalist techno (only without techno) that is as far ahead as it is solidly rooted (check 'New History Warfare Vol.1 - 3').

Speaking of Cinemascope: Yes, Colin Stetson has composed and recorded music for over 25 movies, TV series and computer games. A song of his was used in '12 Years a Slave' by Steve McQueen and this movie won an Oscar. Looking at 'Color out of Space', a 2019 Lovecraft adaptation starring Nicolaus Cage for which Stetson created something that could be called maximalist Morricone, the description by the German motion picture rating system organization FSK summarizes: "The story is predominantly told in a calm manner and only slowly builds up tension and horror, with intense usage of colour and lighting. As the plot progresses, more drastic splatter elements come into play. These gruesome images and the atmosphere of madness and doom may overwhelm children and young people under 16." (SPIO FSK) Stetson's music follows suit, there is no overburdening however, rather, as already indicated, a sense of Cinemascope for the ears.

Yes, Colin Stetson also plays with Greg Fox and Shahzad Ismaily regularly, but that shouldn't come as a surprise now.

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