New York Times Praises Phillip Bimstein's Starkland CD

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The New York Times has published a wonderful review of Starkland's Larkin Gifford's Harmonica CD from "alternative classical" composer Phillip Bimstein. Times critic Steve Smith concludes that "the irresistible charm of Mr. Bimstein's music has less to do with technology than with his uncanny knack for finding the music of everyday life." Multiple-Grammy winner John Adams wrote the CD's Introduction. This new CD echoes Bimstein's previous Garland Hirschi's Cows Starkland recording, which was lavishly praised, triggered hundreds of calls to hip radio stations throughout the country, and was called "a cult classic" on National Public Radio.

Phillip Bimstein's Larkin Gifford's Harmonica CD has received a wonderful review in Sunday's New York Times. Critic Steve Smith calls the CD "an engaging introduction" to Bimstein's "quirky electro-acoustic compositions."

Read the entire New York Times review at:

Multiple-Grammy winner John Adams wrote the CD's warmly enthusiastic Introduction, stating: "Like their composer, the pieces on this album communicate a generous and good-natured spirit that is tempered with wry wit and a special sense of the western landscape and culture that he so loves."

Read more about this CD and listen to excerpts at:

Released by Starkland, this new CD follows Bimstein's very popular Garland Hirschi's Cows Starkland CD, which was widely acclaimed, generated hundreds of calls to radio stations, and was anointed "a cult classic" on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

The Times review provides readers with enticing descriptions for each of the CD's five works. Smith reports how "The title piece is built around the voice of an elderly Utah neighbor, who reminisces about his lineage and love of music. Mr. Bimstein surrounds the narrative with a swirl of Mr. Gifford's tootling harmonica."

Smith next writes, "Even more charming is The Bushy Wushy Rag, in which a St. Louis ballpark beer vendor is accompanied by manic announcers, noisemakers and swatted balls while the Equinox Chamber Players perform lines derived from Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag."

Bimstein's typical approach to his enchanting compositions is to record an interview with distinctive personality, supplement this by recording related real-world sounds, develop musical phrases from these materials that are played by a chamber ensemble, and then deconstruct and re-assemble all these ingredients into tasty concoctions.

In Casino, Bimstein began by interviewing the philosophizing dice-caller Tom Martinet discussing Las Vegas and his captivating collection of gambling lore. The piece shuffles together Martinet snippets and various gambling sounds such as clinking poker chips and the big wheel, while, as Smith comments, "The Sierra Winds play tuneful, dancing figures, augmented by rattling dice and burbling slot machines."

Regarding the composer's musical depictions, Adams notes that "Bimstein has an enviable knack for choosing spoken narratives that reminds me of the filmmaker Errol Morris."

Smith's review savors "Mr. Bimstein's fascination with the sounds of nature" in Half Moon at Checkerboard Mesa, in which the "oboist Stephen Caplan engages in intricate call-and-response with a chorus of chirping frogs." The work has been performed at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

The impressive Times review concludes by observing that Rockville, Utah, 1926 proves that "the irresistible charm of Mr. Bimstein's music has less to do with technology than with his uncanny knack for finding the music of everyday life."

This favorable review follows several other complimentary media comments. The All Media Guide remarks that "Bimstein is really quite skilled at pulling together these electronic montages" and concludes that the CD is "very well done." The Salt Lake City Weekly imaginatively describes the CD as "equal parts Frank Zappa and NPR," and Denver's Westword declares "It's a winner."

With other websites noting the prominent New York Times review, the adventurous Starkland label has received increased attention for its pioneering efforts and excellent recordings over the years. The influential Sequenza21 website writes, "Props to our amigo Tom Steenland who has been producing great avant-garde recordings on his Starkland label from Boulder for many years now. It isn't every day that a CD from a small label makes the New York Times."

Bimstein's previous Garland Hirschi's Cows CD elicited some highly exuberant reviews. Stereophile wrote that "Bimstein is... brilliantly original... outstanding in his field… a talent to watch." Stereo Review praised the CD for its "immediacy, wit, and inventiveness," and Wired deemed the CD "quirky and thoroughly engaging."

Read more about Garland Hirschi's Cows at:

About Phillip Bimstein:

Bimstein resides in Springdale, Utah, where he served two terms as mayor, prompting Outside magazine to call him "America's only all-natural politician composer." His "alternative classical" music combines acoustic instruments with found sounds and voices to paint portraits and tell stories. Bimstein's music has been performed at Lincoln Center, Bang on a Can, and London's Royal Opera House. In addition to his studies of theory, composition, and orchestration at the Chicago Conservatory and UCLA, Bimstein led the new wave band Phil 'n' the Blanks, whose albums and videos were college radio and MTV hits.

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About Starkland:

The Starkland label releases compelling, engaging recordings of new, experimental, and alternative classical music. To view Starkland's complete catalog, visit:

Previous recordings have received over 150 favorable reviews, including those in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Billboard, Sound & Vision, and the Village Voice. All of the music on the label's Immersion DVD was commissioned by Starkland exclusively for high-resolution surround sound. It is now recognized as the first such recording in history, and Immersion has often been the #1 bestselling DVD-Audio at

Read more about Immersion at:

The label's releases have been featured on such national radio programs as NPR's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. Other recordings present Charles Amirkhanian, Tod Dockstader, Paul Dresher, Aaron Jay Kernis, Phil Kline, Guy Klucevsek, Kronos Quartet, Merzbow, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Turtle Island String Quartet, John Zorn, more.

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