Electric Bands

Electric Bands

Plugging into the fantastic
D. J. Sparr
D. J. Sparr
Kristina Bachrach
Hajnal Kármán Pivnick
Brianna Matzke
Momenta Quartet
Karen Strittmatter Galvin
Shawn Galvin
Kimberly Sparr
Jake Wenger
Mark Morton
Catalog Number: 
#1 013
new classical
new music
solo voice

Lubbock, TX

Release Date: 
Jan 25, 2019
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

D. J. Sparr not only lives on the mystical high plains of the Wild West (Lubbock to be precise), he also embodies an unconfined nature when it comes to making music. As comfortable playing a guitar concerto with a major orchestra as he is employing Tibetan singing bowls and banjos for a film score, his ears are as open as his horizons are wide.

Electric Bands brings together four of his works for electronically-improved chamber ensembles; a format that allows for moments of magical realism. You might detect traces of layered Nancarrow-type rhythms deftly executed with guitar pedals or you might not; either way, Sparr’s effortless combination of composer-thinking and guitarist mind make his music as satisfying for the head as for the heart.

I Can Hear Her Through the Thin Wall Singing for electric guitar and soprano (the crystalline Kristina Bachrach) imagines what kind of song cycle Debussy might have written if only he’d had the full range of modern guitar effects available to him – and Brooklyn poet, Patrick Phillips’ spare texts. Meta444 was inspired by a conversation between Killer Mike and Stephen Colbert. It is traditional ritual music for a religion and a place that exists only in the imagination. 

Sparr’s string quartet, Avaloch, for the Momenta Quartet, sprang from a place that very much exists – Avaloch Farm Music Institute, New Hampshire – and its attendant apple orchards and walks in the woods. But it’s a place where time is illusory, and the inhabitants are free of stress and dance with boundless joy. 

Earthcaster Suite (the one that includes banjo, Tibetan bowls, mandolin, organ, and strings) was composed for a documentary about artist Thomas Sayre. Sayre’s work blends art and science, addresses the past and future, and joins the natural and man-made in a sometimes-dangerous dance of gravity and grace.

D. J. Sparr, whom Gramophone Magazine recently hailed as "exemplary," is one of America’s preeminent composer-performers. He has caught the attention of critics with his eclectic style, described as "pop-Romantic ... iridescent and wondrous" (The Mercury News) and “suits the boundary erasing spirit of today's new-music world” (The New York Times). The Los Angeles Times praises him as “an excellent soloist,” and the Santa Cruz Sentinel says that he “wowed an enthusiastic audience ... Sparr's guitar sang in a near-human voice.” In 2011, NPR named Sparr one of their music listeners’ “favorite composers under 40.” Sparr has composed for and performed with renowned ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, and Eighth Blackbird.


[Avaloch]…the unique sound of American homespun experimentation, free of ideology and full of curiosity. The piece revolves around an agitated, yearning tune, and the music has a rough-hewn quality, like shape-note singing, particularly in the counterpoint. There is also pre-recorded music that played asynchronously from smart phones held inside ceramic pots by each musician.Avaloch has a fulfilling sense of waywardness, disregarding obvious formal considerations and searching for a shape organic to itself. That quality, and Momenta’s weighty, lyrical playing gave it a social quality that is fundamental to the Ivesian conception of music making. – New York Classical Review


"A Texas guitar whiz with the chops to bang his sounds out to all fields across the entire music spectrum." [FULL ARTICLE] - Chris Spector


"This is all a new vision of contemporary classical music, pushing into new territory while holding on to familiar styles. Intriguing, stunning and so beautiful. Such a hopeful work." [FULL ARTICLE]


"Sparr’s music is ambitious and challenging, but engagingly so, casting 20th and 21st century music, almost as a whole, through a prism—fascinating but with feeling and subtle humor.” [FULL ARTICLE] - Mark Keresman


"Electric guitarist DJ Sparr creates a series of pieces in varied settings. A duet with vocalist Kristina Bacharach for a 5 part “I Can Hear Her Through The Thin Wall Singing” mixes dreamy abstractions, distortions and rich frames. A pastoral “Earthcaster Suite” is five short tunes with guitar, banjo and mandolin by the leader teaming with strings, percussion and Hammond. Two other tunes have Sparr on Electronics on a mix of slashing strings and noodles for “META444” and a visceral and sitting one out on the  dramatic “String Quartet: Avaloch.” Cerebral sounds." [FULL ARTICLE]


"whether it be acoustic versus electric or traditional versus contemporary. In this pastoral setting and elsewhere, Sparr largely disregards such limiting separations and achieves surprisingly harmonious results in doing so." [FULL ARTICLE]


"Beautifully spare and evocative...shimmers with emotion” [FULL ARTICLE]


"evocative and intimate landscapes, in which it is easy, and pleasant, to get lost." [KATHODIK] - Filippo Focosi


"Composer/guitarist D. J. Sparr presents music of a mixed classical and eclectic character in the form of two five-movement suites and two other original works on (2). Using a total of thirteen musicians including strings, guitar, electronics, and vocal, the recordings were made in five different locations and feature groups ranging from two to six members. Sparr, on electric guitar, and soprano Kristina Bachrach are the only performers on the opening suite "I Can Hear Her Through the Thin Wall Singing," with simple single-pitch lines from Bachrach accompanied sparsely by Sparr on guitar in the first movement, "Elegy After Midnight," growing in melody and background during the next three movements before returning to simplicity in the vocal and major seventh chords on the guitar in the last movement. The longer of the two single works "String Quartet: Avaloch" has an impressionistic quality, with underlying sustained sounds permeating its 14 minutes. "Earthcaster Suite," utilizing six musicians collectively on four strings, guitar, percussion, banjo, mandolin and organ, consists of six short pieces, each in the one to two minute range. Sparr's work on banjo and mandolin over the strings gives this work its peculiarly jaunty quality. "