Today, ROB MOOSE, the highly-sought after producer and arranger, releases his third single, “MARVEL ROOM” featuring BON IVER from his forthcoming EP, Inflorescence, set for release August 11 on Sony Music Masterworks – LISTEN HERE. Having worked together since 2010, Rob initially collaborated with Justin Vernon on a one-off Bon Iver performance at a Cincinnati festival. Since then, Rob has been a major component of each Bon Iver album, playing violin and viola and writing string and horn arrangements.
Justin Vernon comments on his working relationship with Rob Moose:
Rob changed my life; I had never played with someone on his level. When we started working together on arrangements, my own mind and creativity blossomed, and I started seeing further into the universe of what was possible musically.
It was a rare moment during the pandemic when I was able to do the vocals on this tune “Marvel Room.” It was an old demo that I had lost track of. But Rob has access to pretty much everything I ever ‘try’, and he found it and made this incredible arrangement. It brought new wind into the song, and I was able to get excited and find the lyrics and melody.
Rob Moose notes of his history of working with Justin Vernon:
I met Justin in 2010, at the MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati. I was in town with yMusic, to perform with St. Vincent, and Aaron and Bryce Dessner were helping Justin put together a solo show to close out the festival. They mentioned that if any of us were willing to stick around for an extra day, we could join in for the show, and I leaped at the opportunity as a fervent fan of his work. I remember being asked, over post-show drinks at a dive bar, to put together some arrangements for a few songs, including “For Emma,” and setting my alarm for 6am to dive into the work. Playing that show with Justin was a career high point for me, and I was thrilled that it led to an invitation to work on the next Bon Iver album.
From that point forward, Justin has been a creative north star for me. There is something about him and his music that coaxes creative breakthroughs out of me. Whether by encouraging me to study the saxophone writing in Duke Ellington’s music, or to mimic the intrinsic counterpoint of the pedal steel, Justin has illuminated parallels and possibilities the value of which I would not have dreamed to recognize. His ability to selflessly synthesize the ideas of others in the context of his most personal artistic work is unparalleled in my experience.
“Marvel Room” started off as an idea for the “i,i” album, though it wasn’t one we approached together during the arranging process. I encountered it during a hard drive deep dive and was intrigued by its propulsive rhythms and baritone incantations. I set out to embody the original voicings on strings, and as part of my arrangement study, I recorded the whole song three different times in pursuit of the perfect feel. It traveled with me from Harlem to Brooklyn, where we moved before my son was born. I leaned in to uncode elusive phrases in his scratch vocal, and we passed the track back and forth a few times as the form and content emerged. He asked me for more subdivided rhythm in places, and I wondered if he might throw in a touch of sparkle toward the end. A year later, I got the courage to cut an extended intro I’d done, and suddenly the track was finished.
From duetting with Phoebe Bridgers on late night TV to arranging the strings on Miley Cyrus’s recent chart topper “Flowers,” ROB MOOSE, the highly-sought after producer and arranger, is releasing music under his own name for the first time at age 40. Available for preorder now, Inflorescence is a stunning EP featuring some of the heavy hitter collaborators you would expect, including Phoebe Bridgers, Sara Bareilles, Bon Iver, Brittany Howard and Emily King, and is set for release on August 11, 2023 via Sony Music Masterworks.
ABOUT THE INFLORESCENCE EP
Though you may not know it, you’ve already heard Rob Moose. But that’s really not the point.
Since the early 2000s, Moose has been elevating, illuminating, and collaborating on some of the most celebrated songs across the panorama of contemporary music. Whether as a composer, arranger, performer, or all of these at once, Moose has appeared on recordings by Taylor Swift, Paul Simon, Maren Morris, FKA Twigs, Joshua Bell, The National, Moses Sumney, Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Legend, and so many more. He is responsible for writing and playing the string arrangement on Miley Cyrus’s number one hit, “Flowers” and he arranged the Oscar-nominated closing credits song, “This is A Life,” from the 2023 Oscar winner for Best Picture, Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Clearly, you’ve heard Rob Moose.
His work with genre-defying chamber ensemble yMusic, both in presenting commissioned music and collaborating with artists such as Nico Muhly, Ben Folds, Dirty Projectors, and ANOHNI has garnered the highest praise from classical and pop music critics alike.
Still, this really is not the point.
To be able do this, to move between writing arrangements for Eddie Vedder and playing violin with Perfume Genius and The Killers, one must be adept at navigating a variety of relationships –– the relationships between people, of course, but also the relationships between sounds; between songwriting and performance. “Growing up, I was always the kid in orchestra who was trying to learn Nirvana songs on my violin,” Moose says.
A lifelong fascination with the fluid relationships between genres and a desire to “make sense of the separation” between classical and pop music has led to Inflorescence, Rob Moose’s first solo release.
Considering the astonishing breadth of personal and artistic relationships which Moose deftly navigates, it should come as no surprise that this solo work is not only significantly collaborative, but that the list of collaborators comprises some of the most acclaimed singers in pop music.
Moose’s soulful and dynamic string arrangements and performance provide the bedrock for Inflorescence, while Phoebe Bridgers, Sara Bareilles, Bon Iver, Brittany Howard, and Emily King deliver memorable vocal performances. And these are the sole elements that make up Inflorescence: strings and vocals.
Throughout his career, Moose evolved from a player –– often violin, sometimes guitar and mandolin –– into one of the most in-demand arrangers in popular music today. But while string arrangements are so often thought of as fulfilling a supporting role within a bigger picture, with Inflorescence, the strings are stretched across the whole of the stage. And Moose is placing great trust in the listeners, who he considers among his collaborators here. Though these recordings are too beautiful to be called challenging, in the omission of drums, sequencers, electric guitar, one finds a good deal of space. The songs breathe and sometimes fall quiet between lines, and in this quiet, the listener is invited to intuit, to fill in the blanks. This is music born of respect and intimacy; music which leaves space for the listener’s imagination to blossom.
The inimitable Brittany Howard’s authoritative and heartbreaking delivery on opener “I Bend But Never Break” feels dreamlike in the context of Moose’s cinematic arco-drama –– dreamlike not in any ethereal sense, but for the uncanny effect of encountering such an earthy delivery in this sublime context. “Can Only Be Love” features Emily King’s gentle but magnetic singing, first over a bare staccato pulse and then over cascading strings like ribbons of mist, while Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is typically serpentine on the stunning “Marvel Room,” his voice dancing against violin, viola, and cello which all bend to meet him as he winds his way. Phoebe Bridgers fans will be awestruck to encounter “Wasted,” a near-mythical fan favorite that has made a handful appearances in live sets, presented here as a lush and effervescent waking dream. Layers of elegant strings weave a novel context for Bridgers’ always convincing and plaintive delivery.
Clearly, this record is not merely a showcase of various singers stepping to the mic while the house band plays through. Those aforementioned, wholly crucial relationships prove to be the soul of this record. In one understanding of the concept of soul, of course, one could easily substitute the words synthesis or synergy. When we call something “soulful,” we’re really recognizing that all of the components of that thing are working perfectly together. There’s a kind of pure internal harmony to what’s most soulful.
Moose left a masters program at Columbia University in 2005 to join then underground sensation Antony and the Johnsons. Maybe reckless or risky, history will likely see this as a soulful decision, and his work with ANOHNI, which continues nearly two decades later, perhaps soulfully informs Inflorescence in essential ways. Today, Moose unflinchingly proclaims “ANOHNI is my greatest musical teacher.”
Each of the pieces on Inflorescence came to be by its own path. Rather than simply sitting down and writing a series of songs for each of the singers to come through and interpret, Moose collected and associated these works to each other and to themselves, in some cases reintroducing the works to their co-authors. “Extract” and “I Bend But Never Break” are songs written by Sara Bareilles and Brittany Howard, respectively, but which were perhaps destined to find no home until Moose’s reinterpretation. The Bridgers track is a similar story, while “Marvel Room” might be considered more of a co-write, beginning as a few threads that had been haunting Bon Iver sessions but which remained unwieldy until Moose and Vernon were to weave them together, together. “Can Only Be Love” was also collaboratively penned, with Moose making the first move, King responding, and so on, in a sort of conceptual and musical conversation.
It is just this type of process that gives Inflorescence its most essential characteristic, its soulfulness.
And this is the point. Far from being simply a showcase of tunes and a revolving cast, it is a soulful synthesis of elements, a tender and essential wielding of relationships that results in something we all want out of music: utter beauty. Moose has done this by gently reorienting the focus, respecting the effervescent potential in the spaces between notes, between genres, and between his collaborators and himself.
Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, Milan Records, XXIM Records and Masterworks Broadway imprints. For email updates and information please visit www.sonymusicmasterworks.com/.
1 “I Bend But Never Break” [ft. Brittany Howard]
2 “Can Only Be Love” [ft. Emily King]
3 “Marvel Room” [ft. Bon Iver]
4 “Wasted” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]
5 “Extract” [ft. Sara Bareilles]
“Wasted” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]
“I Bend But Never Break” [ft. Brittany Howard]
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