Dig in
Ross Feller
Oberlin Conservatory Contemporary Music Ensemble
Tim Weiss
Adam Tendler
Peter Evans
Oberlin Percussion Group
Michael Rosen
Ensemble Luna Nova
Helen Kim
Ted Gurch
Dorothy Martirano
Franklin Cox
Oberlin Conservatory Wind Ensemble
Catalog Number: 
new classical
wind band

Gambier, OH

Release Date: 
Feb 17, 2017
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
X-WindsiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
1.Triple Threat07:28$0.99
2.Still Adrift07:16$0.99
3.Bypassing the Ogre05:06$0.99
One Sheet: 

Composer Ross Feller’s X/Winds contains multitudes. The work on this album is characterized by raw, ecstatic layers of material that percolate with refined, virtuosic gestures. Feller lets the contradictions in these elements animate the music, their clashes generating the energy of the pieces. Throughout, there is an emphasis on a deep-seated sense of resonance, and tactile and physical attributes of sound as they are experienced. This is muscular Modernism at its most immediate and urgent, in the grand tradition of Charles Ives and Henry Brant.In “Triple Threat,” labyrinthine patterns are mapped onto various musical parameters, then disrupted by Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Guattari’s three fractured lines: break, crack, and rupture. In places, parts are obscured through masking techniques such as pitch and timbral overlapping and in others, sheer force pushes elements into the foreground and shoves others to the back.

More meditative and less forceful, “Still Adrift” nonetheless reflects Feller’s interest in juxtaposition and sound as a physical force. Processed and resynthesized piano samples to amplify the live piano’s resonance and suggest the sense of a virtual, acoustic space.

The title track – blown to great heights by the Oberlin Conservatory Wind Ensemble – navigates the space between these two ends of the spectrum, conjuring mayhem through webs of textural densities, and employing conflicts between various contradictory impulses that build to a frenzy, eventually leaving only resonant trails and air.

A Chicago native, Feller began in high school to systematically explore the boundaries of his saxophone through improvisation, and experiment with various compositional techniques. He co-founded the avant-garde, jazz-rock ensemble Dot Dot Dot, and then went on to study composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He currently teaches at Kenyon College, Ohio.

“Feller sees sound itself as a primary material of his music, no matter how rigorously he structures pitch and rhythm. Sound is bent and smeared, layers bleed into one another and then detach. Instruments overlap and create morphing meta-instruments. All this is guided both by a scrupulous ear and by the metaphysical programs animating the flow… Feller proves that the idea of exploring new worlds, of breaking molds isn’t dead at all. Modernism for him is a tradition of freedom and experiment, mixed with an intellectual armature of rigor and paradox. For listeners who have grown up with indie rock, free improv, industrial noise, this will be familiar terrain. Likewise those who like their art with a dash of conceptualism and philosophy will find plenty to satisfy their appetite. Dig in.” – Robert Carl, composer and music critic.



“Feller represents the current state of the art whose ancestry includes the likes of Lejaren Hiller and Salvatore Martirano, both major innovators in both music and technology.  Martirano was one of his teachers and Martirano’s widow, the fine violinist Dorothy Martirano, performs on this recording.  This writer had the pleasure of hearing the Martiranos in concert some years ago and can attest to the astounding quality of the work of this too little known composer.  Judging by the works on this recording Feller appears to be a worthy successor.

These are incredible performances by highly competent and creative musicians of music which is well served by these skills.  Very engaging music very well performed and recorded.” [FULL ARTICLE] - Allan Cronin


“The disc opens with “Triple Threat”, for three soloists and an ensemble of nine. This is a work that deals with opposition and multiplicities, with a form inspired by the fractured lines found in Deleuze and Guattari’s book “A Thousand Plateaus”. The violin, trumpet and clarinet soloists are pitted against the ensemble, with the soloists and various ensemble combinations competing for the listener’s attention. Within the ensemble itself a “classical” percussionist is pitted against a “jazz/rock” trap set player heightening the intensity. It is a highly engaging piece and a wonderful introduction to the music of Ross Feller...“X/Winds” also contains two very different works for solo instruments. “Bypassing the Ogre” is for solo trumpet and performed by Peter Evans. The piece has a loose, almost improvisatory feel. It makes extensive use of extended techniques and its overall language is reminiscent of sound languages from trumpet innovators such as the AACM’s (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) Lester Bowie and Wadda Leo Smith. On the other hand “Glossolalia” for solo cello is somewhat in the “modernist” vein. Feller comments in the liner notes that he found his inspiration for this piece in the utterances of “ecstatic tongues”. The work is filled with sharp angular gestures, glissandi and various bowing techniques all while navigating rapid changes in dynamics and rhythm. It is given a very dramatic and colorful performance from cellist Franklin Cox.

The album includes two additional ensemble works. “Disjecta” which is the longest piece on this album, is for percussion quintet. “Disjecta” is a striking piece, full of contrasting moods and colors. The five independent parts collaborate and compete, fuse and separate, as they explore pathways of independent rhythmic trajectories that build out from silence. In addition to the wonderful performance from the Oberlin Percussion Group, the recording really captures the spatial placement of the various percussion instruments. The final piece is the title track “X/Winds” which is a work for symphonic wind ensemble with piano and percussion and is performed by the Oberlin Conservatory Wind Ensemble. It is a stunning piece filled with contrasting textures and dynamics that build into frenzy and then dissipate into quiet airy sounds.

Ross Feller’s work freely explores challenging ideas, resulting in original and engaging twenty first century music. Highly recommended!” [FULL ARTICLE] - Chris De Chiara


"Two compositions for solo instruments included on the CD show how Feller integrates a gestural vocabulary incorporating extended techniques with a semi- or quasi-improvised structure...pushes this unusual instrumental combination of wind and strings onto unexpectedly common ground by emphasizing overlapping pitches and complementary timbres, as modified and enhanced by the electronics." [FULL ARTICLE] - Daniel Barbiero


“The mix of electronic and acoustic, the coexistence between the structural mix of complex compositional work and improvisation pervasive scent that lingers a bit everywhere ...the influence of composers such as Cage and Scelsi and atmosphere of the new "new music" are the ingredients that give life to these eight compositions...The exploration of the experimental musical context that featured a fairly recent past becomes a stimulus for research that, while not leading to extraordinary innovations and indeed showing sometimes walking on the streets already quite beaten, reveals the authenticity committed a conscious exercise of creativity artistic, offering different moments of very valuable listening.” [FULL ARTICLE] - Alessandro Bertinetto



“Composer Ross Feller mixes modern classical with jazz on this wide ranging collection of eight pieces. Material ranging from solo, duets and larger ensembles are given a 21st Century direction. “Franklin Cox goes solo on his cello as it bends and snaps like Reese Witherspoon on “Glossolalia” and Dorothy Martirano’s violin goes electro-acoustic to create buzzing sounds that give hint of a Bette Davis mystery movie. Peter Evens’ trumpet splats and burps on “Bypassing the Ogre” and Adam Tendler’s  piano echoes with drama on “Still Adrift.” “Triple Threat” includes three soloists and a 9 piece ensemble that has scratching strings that the fragmented trumpet itches while Ted Gurch’s bass clarinet sub-tones as he lurks on ”Sfumato.” Moods and textures.” - George Harris


"It's kinetic, agitated, an emotional roller coaster ride, tempered by a grand sense of style - a kind of refined chaos." - [FULL ARTICLE] - Anya Wassenberg