Robert Stillman is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from the northeast United States. His music juxtaposes the archaic with the futuristic, incorporating influences of Jazz, Minimalism, American Folk music, and experimental electronic music to create a sound described by the Guardian Observer as “lending an avant-garde shimmer to pre-modern American sounds.”
We are over the moon to announce that in 2022 Kit will be releasing a double-whammy of Robert Stillman records, alongside US label Orindal.
Those records are:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AMERICAN?
What Does it Mean to Be American? is the eighth solo album by Maine-born, UK-based composer & multi-instrumentalist Robert Stillman. Performed, recorded & mixed by Stillman with a Prince-like versatility, the album takes in elements of jazz, drone, funk, blues, psychedelia, new age & chamber music across its seven tracks.
On the opener 'Cherry Ocean', we are treated to Robert's voice for the first time ... the effect is like a lost, sombre Beach Boys demo, with Brian Wilson talking us through the aftermath of a weekend spent in the French Quarter of New Orleans. What follows loops from glass-clinking, freeform jazz ('It's All Is') to angular, rhodes-heavy funk ('Self-image') and dub echo-drenched piano blues ('Acceptance Blues').
As with much of Robert's music, unexpected swerves and gear shifts are never far away; this is partly due to his improv-driven tape bricolage recording process, but also a wilful defiance to adhere to any particular genre. This fluid, unpredictable approach dovetails perfectly with the subject matter of Stillman's national identity crisis. Nothing is quite as it seems, as oddly rousing militaristic psychedelia, morning reveilles and mountain blues are dismantled in the melting pot.
Perhaps most remarkable is the size of Robert's sound on American? - a one-man studio has no right to conjure scenes so raucous and convivial. And it's at these half-dreamt fraternal moments, where Stillman seems to touch directly at the tragic, optimistic heart of his question.
Recommended if you like Ornette Coleman, Milton Nascimento, John Fahey, Allen Toussaint.
Robert Stillman's much-loved, homespun collection of Fender Rhodes improvisations receives the vinyl treatment.
Recorded to tape in the solitude of Robert's Kent studio, Portals is truly a candid window into the trance-like process of making: melodies, ideas and themes are added folded, concealed and revealed like layers of paper and paint, combining to form an intimately transportive sonic mural.
Most startling are the shifting voices of the Rhodes - from careening, glassy pads to strident basslines, curveball jazz breakdowns or kaleidoscopic marimba flutter. Keys players take note: Portals is a masterclass in restricted virtuosity. Quite how so many worlds are conjured from one instrument across the 35 minute duration of this record, we're not sure.
Recommended if you like Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Arthur Russell, Kali Malone. This vinyl edition of Portals features a previously unreleased track, 'PORTAL 8'.
We will be celebrating the double whammy of Robert's Portals and American? with an intimate launch party at Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston, London.
Support comes in the form of a solo set by bass maestro Tom Herbert, and some tunes span by Kit Records in-house DJ team.
Come and celebrate with Robert, and grab copies of his wonderful albums. You can book tickets here.