Dawn Richard And Spencer Zahn

Quiet In A World Full Of Noise

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Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn share a common collaborative ethos, a genuine sense of musical curiosity, and a cosmopolitan eagerness to escape the conventions of genre. That shared vision first brought them together on 2022’s Pigments—icy and warm, stripped-down and grand, familiar and otherworldly and now it has reunited them for Quiet in a World Full of Noise.

By turns intimate, soul-baring, spectral, and startling, Quiet in a World Full of Noise blends atmospheric and orchestral soundscapes with mellifluous soul, jazz, and journalistic vocalizing driving it all home with stark, confessional lyricism. The new album finds Richard at her most raw and exposed. This year, Richard’s musician father experienced mini strokes while being diagnosed with cancer; and last year, her cousin Cisco was fatally shot seven times in New Orleans. Richard channels the emotional impact of these traumatic experiences of loss into her lyrics and vocal performances, which are left bare and human here, raw and unprocessed across the album. Quiet expands the definitions of what constitutes progressive, avant-garde

R&B by rewriting them altogether.

On paper, Richard and Zahn’s audacious, impressionistic musical collaborations feel like a surprising match. Richard, a New Orleans–reared visionary, has had an improbable journey from late 2000s reality television and mainstream pop with girl group Danity Kane to become one of the most prolific, experimental, and visible indie

R&B singer-songwriters of the last decade and a half, with seven solo albums under her belt. Zahn is an East Coast–raised multi-instrumentalist and composer working at the intersections of jazz, Americana, classical, and ambient pop. His growing solo discography includes People of the Dawn, Sunday Painter, Pale Horizon, and Statues I & II, as well as the duo’s first release, Pigments. “Pigments was one of the best projects I’ve

ever made,” Richard says, “and the furthest I’ve ever been pushed as an artist.” The album was a critical hit, hailed as Best New Music by Pitchfork and receiving praise from Stereogum as Album of the Week, NPR Music, Bandcamp Daily, The Fader, Bitter Southerner, and Edition, among many other publications.

The making of its follow-up, Quiet in a World Full of Noise, began in 2023 in upstate New York. Fresh from a break-up, Zahn sat at his piano and poured himself into writing and recording instrumental compositions. “I wrote all these stream-of-consciousness pieces on piano, and they were eerie, spacious piano tracks,” he said.

He used a piano that had been unconventionally tuned to the room rather than to standard pitch. These oddly-tuned, eerie instrumental recordings were never intended to be an album. Six months later, he listened to the recordings again and sent them to Richard who immediately recognized their potential and said, “Oh, this is the next album.”

Richard went into the studio the next day and wrote and recorded melodies and lyrics to Zahn’s piano recordings. Zahn brought in gifted musicians like Bryan Senti on strings (violin, viola, and violoncello da spalla) and CJ Camerieri on brass (French horn, flugelhorn, and trumpet). In some cases, like on the track “Life in Numbers,” Zahn used only the original first-take piano recording and scratch vocal, resulting in an intimate close-up of both Richard and Zahn.

TRACK LISTING

SIDE A
1. Stains
2. Quiet In A World Full Of Noise
3. Traditions
4. Diets
5. Stay
6. Life In Numbers

SIDE B
7. Moments For Stillness
8. The Dancer
9. Breath Out
10. To Remove
11. Ocean Past
12. Try

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