The Perfect Nothing Catalog

The Perfect Nothing Catalog

A world from scratch
Conrad Winslow
Cadillac Moon Ensemble
Catalog Number: 
new classical
new music

Brooklyn, NY

Release Date: 
Nov 17, 2017
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

The Perfect Nothing Catalog is the debut album by Alaska-raised and Brooklyn-based composer Conrad Winslow, coproduced with Aaron Roche, featuring electroacoustic works commissioned and recorded by Cadillac Moon Ensemble.

Cadillac Moon Ensemble—a uniquely mixed quartet of flute, violin, cello, and percussion—has a long working relationship with Winslow. They have commissioned two ensemble works and one solo percussion work. The Perfect Nothing Catalog is a record of their collaboration.

The title of the album and its major half-hour work, composed in 2014, comprises 50 miniatures, obsessively categorized. The structure echoes Caryl Churchill's 2012 play Love & Information, in which a large thematic arc is drawn by tiny non-repeating scenes. The idea of the work was also inspired by rising installation artist Frank Traynor's The Perfect Nothing Catalog (New York Magazine best of New York, 2013) which interrogates the power of curation and restricted control in the making of things.

The other ensemble work on the album, Abiding Shapes (2012), is a pageant about simple wave forms—sawtooth, sine, and square waves. Instead of using actual synthesized sound waves, Winslow notates tiny dynamic ramps, triangles, sines, and squares in terms of loud-to-silent, soft-loud-soft, etc. These are embroidered into larger shapes to illustrate architectural design at every level of the work.

Two other solo works fill out the record: Ellipsis Rules (2014) is a bedtime vibraphone and electronics resonance etude, commissioned by Sean Statser of Cadillac Moon Ensemble, that situates itself between the two ensemble works. This piece introduces a space of stillness balanced against the intricate design in the ensemble works.

Finally, a guitar & piano chaconne written for acclaimed songwriter and producer Aaron Roche, titled Benediction (2016), cycles through 28 chords and sets of variations, showcasing Aaron’s probing and creative approach to electric and acoustic guitar sound design.

As a producer, Roche brings his unique voice— straddling the worlds of notated music and folk music—to illuminate the original facets of these works with electronic production elements and sound design. Roche and Winslow rendered the numerous physical spaces suggested in the scores and evoked in their performance. This spacing is achieved through such physical gestures as foot-stomping patterns in The Perfect Nothing Catalog and rapid shifts in orchestration, from highly resonant sonorities to constricted, tightly-voiced clusters. Winslow also collaborated with installation artist Frank Traynor—who created the installation and shop from which the title piece is taken—on crafting visual artwork for the album that nods to the precise and ragged tone of The Perfect Nothing Catalog.

Conrad Winslow is a composer whose musical forms are bold, legible and emotionally direct. His instrumental music has been commissioned by Alarm Will Sound, Carnegie Hall, the American Composers Orchestra, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra, among others. Raised in Homer, Alaska, he first learned to make a world from scratch by watching his parents build a log cabin home in the woods.



"the end result is full of surprises. It is music of simultaneous—rather than reflective or whimsical—experience.” [FULL ARTICLE] - Brendan Howe


"The work is a fantastic journey that demonstrates both Cadillac Moon's ensemble unity and Winslow's prowess as a composer with intent." [FULL ARTICLE] - Andy Jurik



"there is a lyrical and introspective vein, which shows us another side of the already multifaceted personality of an interesting composer to keep an eye on." [FULL ARTICLE] - Filippo Focosi


"The Perfect Nothing Catalog and Benediction are displays of a higher level of compositional consideration, introducing a composer with an incredible grasp of material and its meaningful possibilities." [FULL ARTICLE] - James May