The term "contemporary classical" — both words, together — is the very essence of what Orlando band Answers are doing. The players — Thad Anderson (vibrakit, electronics), Chris Belt (electric guitar, electronics), Brandon Kyle Miller (electric bass, electronics), Caitlin Pequignot (violin, electronics) and Béatriz Ramirez (oboe, English horn) — are an all-star cast of young Orlando mavericks on the cutting edge of the city's classical music scene, both individually and in groups like Alterity Chamber Orchestra. Little of what they do together evokes the old European masters.
Answers' musical vocabulary may be classical, but their outlook and intent are unmistakably forward. It's new classical music predicated not on the stiffness of tradition but rather the daring liberty of experimentation. They'll reach for electronics just as quickly as they would orchestral instruments. Forget the starched old halls; this is much more renegade art-gallery stuff here.
As a band of composers, Answers have a modus operandi of passing the writer's pen around the table. For their debut studio album, titled A New Path to Touch the Earth, they commissioned bassist Brandon Kyle Miller (with their own stimulus checks, no less) to compose pieces to showcase their ensemble playing and seasoned collective improvisation. Across three extended and voyaging pieces, it's a dynamic trek through structured sections and responding passages of free improvisation.
True to Answers' dedication to the magic of spontaneity, the whole album was recorded live in first takes without overdubs, all in a single day. To further certify their modern sensibilities, they tapped none other than post-rock god John McEntire (of Tortoise and The Sea and Cake fame) to mix and master the album.
A New Path to Touch the Earth will see broad release on all platforms on May 13, but it's up on Answers' Bandcamp now as an early release for stream, download or CD.