Empyrean Atlas is the band of composer/multi-instrumentalist David Crowell. Members of Empyrean Atlas have performed and/or recorded with the Philip Glass Ensemble, The National, Bear in Heaven, Steve Reich, Steve Coleman, Bing & Ruth, Briars of North America, Olga Bell, Happy Place, Little Women and many others. Empyrean Atlas has been featured numerous times on WNYC's New Sounds program, including a live performance with John Schaefer and a special podcast on electric guitarist/composers. In July 2015, Wilco named Inner Circle as one of their 17 favorite records of the year.
"Depending on the tune, the interwoven triple-guitar gamesmanship of Empyrean Atlas can run in few different directions: toward the mathy post-punk of Horse Lords or Battles, toward warmly anesthetic ambience (say, Pink Floyd meets Bradford Cox), or toward West African high life. On “Echolocation,” the clangy, lapping repetitions feel most in line with that last influence. The quintet’s movements are coiled and contained, but pulsing with small, ecstatic fibrillations."
--Giovanni Russonello, New York Times
"Empyrean Atlas offers bright, peppy Afrobeat jump-up...[they] have strayed a long way from their classical chamber-music roots, and are better and bolder for their ventures."
--Steve Smith, The Log Journal
"At eighteen minutes, Poly Rush might seem more EP-length teaser than full-length argument on behalf of Empyrean Atlas, yet what a teaser it is...I can't recall another outfit whose polyrhythms lock quite so tightly together as do Empyrean Atlas's...Brief it might be, but a track like “Echolocation,” for example, is very much capable of inducing an entranced swoon the moment that dazzling interplay appears."
A new project in progress with electric bassist/guitarist Simon Jermyn and featuring Jim Black, Iarla O Lionaird, Joe Branciforte and more to be announced. Please see below for excerpts - full album release in 2018.
OKAPIS is David Crowell performing and producing music in Brooklyn, NY, armed with his studio of synthesizers, guitars, woodwinds, mbiras, singing bowls and just about anything else that can make a sound and be recorded.
Also featuring Gideon Crevoshay and Greg Chudzik.
Released on Innova Recordings in 2012. The title track was commissioned for a performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, in collaboration with the Carlito Carvalhosa exhibition Sum of Days. Eucalyptus and Point Reyes performed by David Crowell, Kaleidoscope and Throw Down Your Heart performed by Brian Archinal.
“Crowell’s use of layering encompasses the cannily composed with just the right taste of aleatory to allow for a bit of improvisational sounding organicism to zestily season a distinctive sound world…a lovely and warm aural bath (Eucalyptus)…the piece’s (Throw Down Your Heart) busily corruscating mallet-played melodies remind one of an entire shop of banjos and mbiras (thumb pianos) being played all at once.”
Celestial Sphere is an astronomical concept of observation that projects all images to be of equal distance from a single vantage point. This concept immediately had emotional resonance for me as I was composing the music. Particularly in Section 1 (approximately the first six minutes of the piece), the music swirls around the ears, at first in the far left/right speakers, and then with additional parts entering closer to the center. Adding to this effect, each part is performed at multiple tempos. Since those parts move at different (although closely related) speeds, the faster ones eventually lap the slower ones, like runners on a track.
Celestial Sphere was commissioned by a consortium of 12 percussionists, organized by Ian Rosenbaum. He presented the premiere at the People Inside Electronics Series at the Monk Space in Los Angeles, CA, November 19, 2013.
Released on VIA records.
Performed by Andrew Sterman and premiered at Weill Hall. Commissioned by the A4TY Program at the Bloomingdale School of Music.
waiting in the rain for snow
Composed for the NOW Ensemble and released on New Amsterdam Records. Last summer, choreographer John Malashock created new work for Waiting in the Rain for Snow and other classic pieces from the NOW Ensemble repertoire. Video coming soon of live dance performances in San Diego.
“David Crowell’s ‘Waiting in the Rain For Snow’ is notable for its crystalline sonic beauty.”
“…a hymnal to a hidden process, the sense of transformation etched and sculpted by intricate, repeated figures in guitar and piano overlaid and compounded by shifting, drifting patterns in woodwinds.”
the open road
Composed for the JACK Quartet and premiered in Montgomery, Alabama as part of the ClefWorks Festival.
“David Crowell’s alluring, vibrant ‘Open Road’ evoked expansive vistas. After a stately opening and sparse textures, the music morphed into an energetic canvas with a fast Minimalist pulse.”
--New York Times
“The concert ended with David Crowell’s cinematographic and Minimalist ‘Open Road,’ an inspired work that evoked Mr. Crowell’s frequent road trips out West.”
--New York Times
Pacific coast highway
Recording performed by Will Chapin. Performed live as Fret X (Mak Grgic and Dan Lippel) from South Korea to South Carolina.
Very Feeling is a collaborative improvising trio with Patrick Breiner on tenor saxophone, Tyler Gilmore on electronics and live mixing, and David Crowell on alto saxophone.
Released in 2010 by Innova Recordings, performed by the David Crowell Ensemble.
“…Crowell’s singular vision transcends genre; no amount of hyphens can pin him down…”