© Robert stillman 2018
“Stillman sounds as if he’s drawing on a deep reserve of sacred conviction.” AQUARIUM DRUNKARD
“Stillman is a composer with an innovative way of rethinking a creaky, generally neglected strain of Americana” UNCUT
“Stillman exhibits an enviable aptitude for quiet experimentation in his compositions, testing boundaries and taking subtle chances without alienating his audience.” DUSTED
Robert Stillman is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from the northeast United States. His music juxtaposes the archaic with the futuristic, incorporating influences of Jazz, Minimalism, American Folk music, and experimental electronic music to create a sound described by the Guardian Observer as “lending an avant-garde shimmer to pre-modern American sounds.”
Stillman’s recorded work, consisting of 9 albums under his own name, has received critical received praise from publications including Mojo, Aquarium Drunkard, Uncut, and Other Music, and his music has been played on radio programmes such as Late Junction (BBCR3), Jamie Cullum (BBC2).
He has performed at venues and festivals throughout the US and Europe, both as a solo act, and in ensembles of various instrumentations. He has supported acts such as Deerhoof, Hauschka, Yo La Tengo, Dirty Projectors, and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone/Advance Base. He has also collaborated with visual artists Mark Garry, Sarah Magenheimer, and the Borbonesa publishing group.
The diversity of Stillman’s music reflects his varied musical life, which started with saxophone lessons in his native Portland, Maine at 11 years old. A move to Boston to study jazz introduced him to formative teachers (George Garzone, Danilo Perez, George Russell), as well as to like-minded colleagues with whom he’d later collaborate, including future members of bands like Glass Ghost, Dirty Projectors, Caveman, and Here We Go Magic. Upon arriving in New York in 2001, this circle of musical colleagues widened to include new collaborators like Luke Temple, Chris and Kurt Weisman, and members of the bands Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, and Hiss Golden Messenger. Since relocating to England, Stillman has worked in bands led by Kit Downes, Tom Skinner, and David Okumu. He is also a member of the collaborative ensemble Bog Bodies, which recently created a new work during a residency at PRAH Foundation, Margate, funded by a Grant for the Arts from the Arts Council of England.
Selected press (click on titles in red to see full clipping)
“Like the celestial phenomena of its title, the power of Rainbow is in Stillman’s ability to bridge the album’s weather-beaten foundations with elegant surges of brightness and colour. A remarkable achievement. ★★★★” MOJO
“An arcane and lovely piece of work…Stillman is a composer with an innovative way of rethinking a creaky, generally neglected strain of Americana” ★★★★ AQUARIUM DRUNKARD
“The US composer and mult-instrumentalist presents a brass-and-percussion requiem for John Fahey, which marches, staggers, waltzes, and floats with a euphoric, drunken dignity." (★★★★) MOJO
“(Station Wagon Interior Perspective) is a tibute to guitar soil master by another American londer-visionary… Stillman has been chipping away at an ornery, creaky vision of American 20th-Century fantasia, taking in the drunken lurch of late-night big band, the irrepressible freedoms of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, and the visionary freedom of outsiders like Charles Ives and Harry Partch (8/10)" UNCUT
“Composer Robert Stillman’s sublime latest transmission sets wordless one-man band pieces conjuring a quaint Americana against mechanical collages…Like drifting off in a saloon bar reverie and waking up beside a locomotive engine. (★ ★ ★ ★ )" MOJO
“Stillman takes over-familiar totems of Americana asks you to hear them afresh.” THE GUARDIAN OBSERVER
“Machine’s Song is a creaky, uncanny music that creates an impressionistic picture of old America” – UNCUT
“Listening to Robert Stillman’s extraordinary Machine’s Song is akin to stepping inside some half remembered dreamworld inhabited by fairground organs, player pianos and other antique musical automata.” – SHINDIG’S HAPPENING MAGAZINE
“It’s beautiful music that engages both the emotions and the intellect, and seems to exist at least partly in the shadows of memory, which is, perhaps, a bit part of what makes it such a rousing delight.” – THE HURST REVIEW
“At its foundation, Stillman’s work evokes images of bar brawls, oncoming trains, and wild gesticulations, but the loving romanticism of his narratives is infused with experimental touches that both examine and repurpose the legacy of early American music.” – THE PORTLAND PHOENIX
“Wonderfully sympathetic music that has the feel of Glass or Reich, whilst retaining an organic warmth.” – THE THE TERRASCOPE