Saxophonist Colin Stetson makes sad, mad and devastatingly original music filled with ambitious sonic landscapes, which often suggest a post-apocalyptic empathy comparable to a Cormac McCarthy or Don DeLillo novel. On his sophomore album, New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, Stetson uses circular breathing techniques to craft overlapped layers of notes on various instruments – alto, tenor and bass sax as well as French horn – and otherworldly vocal effects to create uninterrupted tones, which seem as if they were looped and overdubbed but were all done live in a studio with 20 microphones and then precisely mixed.

Sometimes Stetson sounds like an avant-garde quartet or a free-jazz group; other times he resembles a Philip Glass-esque minimalist ensemble. Stetson’s material is enhanced by contributions from Laurie Anderson, who adds abbreviated, abstract poetics to four songs, and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden, who brings a mournful mood to a traditional gospel piece.

Grade: B



New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is currently available.