8 Songs, 1 Hour 13 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews


Another brilliant Alarm WIll Sound recording!

I knew of this piece since I heard it performed at Tufts University in March 2016 when I was a graduate student there. At the time I had known of Alarm Will Sound for quite some time (thanks to their stunningly brilliant recording of Steve Reich's "Tehillim") but had not known much about Scott Johnson or (sadly,) Tufts' own Dan Dennett. I came away not only getting my first chance to hear AWS live, but also getting introduced to the music and ideas of Johnson and Dennett. Needless to say, I have been awaiting the release of this disc for quite some time.

The recording itself is, as one comes to expect from AWS, amazing. The recording, produced by Johnson himself, is crisp and super clear, which I personally love. This helps the masterful playing absolutely shine through, which of course is top notch. As far as I know, this disc will not be available on streaming services (the recording is too good to let it be bogged down by lower sound quality anyways) so please do yourself a favor and buy this album. Whether it be the ideas of Dennett, the fantastic music composed by Johnson, or the sheer quality of musicianship by AWS, you will absolutely be enlightened.

About Scott Johnson

American composer and guitarist Scott Johnson incorporates modern instrumentation such as the electric guitar into his works. His music has been heard in performances by Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and his own ensembles; and in dance works performed by the Boston Ballet, the London Contemporary Dance Theater, and the Ballets de Monte Carlo. His music is recorded on the Nonesuch, CRI, Point, and Tzadik labels.

The New York-based composer started out in Wisconsin, where he was raised, and studied visual arts at university. In addition to his major, Johnson played in local rock bands and took music theory courses during this time. After relocating to N.Y.C. in 1975, he focused solely on visual arts for a few years before his music interest was reignited by working on a sound sculpture. Johnson composed "How It Happens" for Kronos Quartet. "John Somebody," one of his most acclaimed compositions, has been recorded by several ensembles on various record labels. Patty Hearst was released on Tzadik in 2007 (it served as the score for director Paul Schrader's film of the same name in 2008).

In 2010, Johnson released Americans (also on Tzadik), including a three-movement, six-years-in-the-making composition of the same name based on the experience of immigrants in the United States. Johnson has also published articles and essays on contemporary music, one of which is excerpted in Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin's influential volume Music in the Western World. His writings are set in landscapes that mix pop sensibilities with classical rigor. He has lectured on his music and ideas at leading conservatories and universities, including the San Francisco and Peabody conservatories, Senzaku Ongaku Daigaku, New York University, the Manhattan School of Music, and Yale University.

In 2014, Johnson's 74-minute, eight-movement suite Mind Out of Matter was performed by the 18-piece contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound with sampled recordings by philosopher Daniel C. Dennett in a premiere at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University as part of its adventurous Peak Performances series. In February of 2018, Tzadik issued a recording of Johnson's Mind Out of Matter, again performed by Alarm Will Sound with Dennett's sampled voice. ~ Joslyn Layne