Debut album Beams of the Huge Night released on New Amsterdam Records August 28 2015.

Purchase via: Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes

Profile: Will Mason mixes composition and improvisation, decorum and din
-- The Boston Globe

Album of the year 2015: Beams of the Huge Night by the Will Mason Ensemble
--Avant Music News

10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015: Beams of the Huge Night by the Will Mason Ensemble.
--Something Else!

"Beams of the Huge Night is a sprawling, ambitious project and Mason has a unique musical vision in the midst of a highly intricate creative process. He successfully seizes on the ambiances of positive and negative natural environments and conveys them with help of this empathetic and very talented group of musicians. This is an unusual album; one where it would be as easy to become as lost as it would be in the woods of northern Maine were it not for an expert guide like Mason."
-- All About Jazz

Beams of the Huge Night press release from New Amsterdam Records:

In a sparsely-populated part of northern Maine, not far from the mountains of the Appalachian Trail, composer and drummer Will Mason secluded himself for eight weeks in a one-room cabin by a lake. He had no running water, electricity, internet, or phone service – only a pencil, manuscript paper, and a few books. For some, this would be unbearably ascetic, but for Mason, a Maine native, the rural, hermitic setting inspired a singular collection of compositions.

“The place where music is made really matters – you can hear it in what results.” said Mason, 26, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in music at Columbia University. “After I moved to New York, I worried my music was becoming a bit too stylish or slick. It’s very easy to get preoccupied thinking that you’re expected to write in a certain way. I needed some time away to regain my accent, so to speak.”

The pieces Mason wrote capture the elemental hugeness of nature. In six tracks spanning over 70 minutes, the composer’s debut album Beams of the Huge Night explores how it feels to be isolated in a place that can inspire awe just as easily as unease. The music is baroquely detailed at times, at other times spare; sometimes menacing, sometimes meditative.

It’s otherworldly music of immense complexity that nevertheless sounds seamless and coherent. Mason’s sonic palette is informed as much by jazz avant-garde pioneers like Albert Ayler and Eric Dolphy as by contemporary concert music composers like Georg Friedrich Haas and György Ligeti. Color and texture are privileged, and lithe and sinuous grooves come into focus only to recede quickly back into the murk.

Much of the music is meticulously through-composed, but it also incorporates extensive improvisation by a band comprised of some of NYC’s brightest young musicians. The unique instrumentation of the ensemble includes oboe (Stuart Breczinski), alto saxophone (Daniel Fisher-Lochhead), female voice (Nina Moffitt), two guitars (Travis Reuter and Andrew Smiley), upright bass (Dan Stein), and drums (Mason).

This same working band has been performing in NYC for over three years, garnering a devoted following and a reputation for gripping and tightly-executed live performances – often foregoing traditional jazz clubs and performing in rock venues and DIY spaces. After honing the material live, the band recorded over three days, and Mason worked for a month mixing with producer Alexander Overington (Rafiq Bhatia, Radiolab). The result is a record that more closely resembles an indie rock album in its attention to detail, which in turn renders the strange sound worlds Mason creates more intentional, more understandable, more accessible.

Album credits:
Recorded March 2014 at Seaside Lounge in Brooklyn NY
Engineered by Jon Altschuler
Mixed by Alexander Overington
Mastered by Liberty Ellman
Album artwork by Mark Nystrom

(left to right: Stuart Breczinski, Andrew Smiley, Curtis Macdonald, Will Mason, Dan Stein, Nina Moffitt, Travis Reuter. Photo credit Hayley Shaw.)