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McCowen, John

Models of Duration [VINYL]

McCowen, John: Models of Duration [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

A co-release with Dinzu Artefacts, clarinetist John McCowen continues his investigation into the physical possibilites of the clarinet family, here on contrabass clarinet for four fully acoustic recordings of continuous tones and unexpected aural phenomena through circular breathing while generating intense harmonics and multiphonics of earth-shaking ferocity.

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product information:

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS195/DNZ77
Squidco Product Code: 32402

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Vinyl LP
Recorded at Circular Ruin Studio, IN Brooklyn, New York, on October 29th to November 1st, 2020, by Randall Dunn .


John McCowen-contrabass clarinet

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The latest from the uncompromising John McCowen is a split release between Dinzu Artefacts and Astral Spirits. Models of Duration follows the same trajectory as McCowen's other amazing solo releases - Solo Contra (International Anthem, 2017), 4 Chairs in 3 Dimensons (Astral Spirits, 2018), Mundanas I - V (Editions Wandelweiser, 2018) but is also a whole world beyond those.

McCowen continues to focus on extended possibilities of the clarinet family as well as acoustic phenomena (as with all his previous releases, there is no amplification or electronically generated sounds here) and it all shines through more dramatically than ever on Models of Duration.

"Duration I" and "Duration II" bookend the record with similarly sustained and rhythmic drones that prepare us for what is to come and also bring us back into the real world at the end of the record. "Foggd" and "Hoskin" both traverse new levels of intensity that McCowen hasn't hit before. Just when you get settled into any of the four tracks on the album and think you know what's coming next, McCowen subtly shifts tones and sounds enough to surprise, while still maintaining a steady through line.

While Models of Duration is technically a solo release, you will notice that Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Master Musicians of Bukkake, Eyvind Kang, Oren Ambarchi, Earth, Anna Von Hausswolff, Six Organs of Admittance, Marissa Nadler, Boris, etc) is credited and also plays a major role on the record. The overall arc of the album is in large part due to Dunn's deft recording and mixing. "Hoskin" should win an award for most intense clarinet recording ever made. Every time I listen the walls of my house shake and I couldn't be happier. Rather than imposing his sound onto the album, Dunn helps bring out the aural magic in McCowen's playing and compositions, a true collaborator in every sense.

Models of Duration also marks McCowen's first vinyl release, a co-release between Dinzu Artefacts and Astral Spirits. The physical and aural space that this record takes up while listening is truly stunning, an acoustic phenomena all on its own. While not a particularly easy listen, the album is also not entirely harsh either, an enveloping world that I don't want to leave when the record ends."-Astral Spirits

Artist Biographies

"John McCowen is a New York based composer and performer whose work focuses on extending the possibilities of the clarinet family. John embraces long-form drones, difference tones, and beating harmonics as a means to extrude the dimensionality within - treating the clarinet as an acoustic synthesizer. His works for ensemble utilize spectral techniques to superimpose the timbral/sonic characteristics of the clarinet onto a grouping of instruments. This may include the clarinet as a solo instrument while the ensemble functions as a resonant system.

John was a founding member of the Chicago avant-rock group, Wei Zhongle, where he performed on amplified clarinet/electronics. His most recent release of three compositions for solo contrabass clarinet, Solo Contra (IARC0015), is out now on International Anthem Records. His discography includes releases on International Anthem, Astral Spirits, Cairn Desk, NNA Tapes, New Atlantis, Self Sabotage, Edible Onion, and DAAANG. He has toured extensively throughout North America as well as trips to Europe and Asia. These performances/spaces include Le Guess Who Festival(NL), Norður og Niður Festival(IS), Hot Air Music Festival, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Supersonic Festival(ENG), Berkeley Art Museum(BAMPFA), The Stone, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, International Clarinet Festival 2014, and more. John was the 2017 artist-in-residence at Lijiang Studio in Yunnan, China. He received the Elizabeth Mills Crothers Award for music composition in 2016 from Mills College where he also received an MA in Music Composition."

-John McCowen Website (

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Track Listing:


1. Duration I 10:45

2. Foggd 13:25


1. Hoskin 11:58

2. Duration II 14:48

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