Pinna Records announces the release of Vestige, an album featuring premiere recordings of new pieces by five composers, performed by the contemporary chamber ensemble Wild Rumpus (now Ninth Planet). Five years in the making, Vestige is an ambitious melding of contemporary chamber music and avant-rock. It features five compositions commissioned by Wild Rumpus, plus an arrangement of a Radiohead song by the ensemble's artistic director, Dan VanHassel.
The genesis of this record dates back even longer, to 2014. Producer Roger Rohrbach heard several of these pieces premiered at a concert in Berkeley that year. “I was really taken by the performance, and impressed by the ensemble—the instrumentation, musicianship, everything,” he recalls. “I approached Dan VanHassel, told him I'd just started a label, and that I was interested in making a record.”
When he heard from VanHassel several years later in early 2017, the ensemble had obtained a grant from New Music USA and recorded a good deal of material on their own. “They were stalled,” he recalls. “They’d recorded four tracks and run out of funds. Some of the material was unusable. I had some trepidation, having not been involved in the production so far.” But Rohrbach was still beguiled by the memory of what he’d heard and decided to take on what VanHassel admitted was “a lot of complication and confusion.”
By this time, the founding members had moved from the Bay Area to LA and Boston. VanHassel flew back for recording sessions in Oakland, where the other two “big” pieces were tracked. There ensued a prolonged marathon of bicoastal re-recording, fundraising, mixing etc. that culminated in a finished master in the summer of 2021.
The working title for the album had been In Time, a nod to Josh Carro’s piece. Over the course of the project, the principals had departed, and Wild Rumpus had merged with San Francisco-based Composers, Inc. to form a new organization, Ninth Planet. VanHassel came up with the more apposite title Vestige.