We use cookies on our website to provide you with the best experience. Most of these are essential and already present.
We do require your explicit consent to save your cart and browsing history between visits. Read about cookies we use here.
Your cart and preferences will not be saved if you leave the site.
Special 10% discount on all in stock items until Sunday at midnight!

Julius Eastman - The Nigger Series

After remaining out of print and hotly pursued for five years, Blume Editions ruturns with a brand new edtion of their 2018 release of Julius Eastman’s “N****r Series”. Comprising three of his most politically and creatively radical works - “Evil N****r” (1979) “Gay Guerilla” (1980) and “Crazy N****r” (1980) - each a shimmering and complex work of Post-Minimalist piano, this brand new deluxe edition is housed in a beautiful, handmade wooden box, which contains two vinyl LPs, a 12-page booklet with the original liner notes by Mary Jane Leach and Bradford Bailey, a brand new 2500 word essay by Bailey, as well as new unseen pictures courtesy of Roberto Laneri, and a poster. Monumental and stunningly beautiful on every count, this is some of the most historically urgent music we can call to mind.


Over the last decade and a half, it’s been incredible to witness the ascending star of the composer Julius Eastman. A celebrated figure within the New York experimental music scene during the 1970s and '80s, over the years following his untimely death in 1990 he and his work drifted into sinful neglect. Largely thanks to a series of archival releases attending to his work - New World Records' “Unjust Malaise” and “The Zürich Concert”, Frozen Reeds' “Femenine”, and Week-End Records’ “Stay On It” - and a handful of new renderings by Apartment House, Wild Up, So Percussion, Kukuruz Quartet, and number of ensembles, attention has finally come his way, placing him at the centre of the consciousness of a new generation of listeners. Back in 2018, Blume Editions delivered the release of Eastman’s “N****r Series”, comprising the composer’s own realisations of his seminal works “Evil N****r” (1979) “Gay Guerilla” (1980) and “Crazy N****r” (1980), across two LPs, marking the first time his work had ever been pressed on vinyl.




Five years on, with a lot having happened since in both the world and surrounding Eastman’s legacy, Blume returns with a brand new, deluxe edition of this long out of print release. Containing the original three works, now housed in a beautiful, handmade wooden box, it also includes a 12-page booklet with the original liner notes by Mary Jane Leach and Bradford Bailey, a brand new 2500 word essay by Bailey, as well as new unseen pictures courtesy of Roberto Laneri, and a poster. A beautiful object inside and out, we’re thrilled to be able to offer these works to fans of Eastman, new and old, who might have missed them the first time around.




During his tragically brief life, Julius Eastman burned like a wild fire. A brilliant composer, pianist, and vocalist who, with contemporaries like Arthur Russell, Arnold Dreyblatt, Ellen Fullman, Rhys Chatham, Glenn Branca, and numerous others, pioneered the development of post-minimal music, he was among only a handful African American artists at the centre of New York’s experimental music scene during the 1970s and '80s. Contentious, confrontational, and brash, he was also among the first artists to draw the subjects of ethnicity and queer identity into the conceptual sphere of that scene; interventions that rarely went down well within a context that was dominantly middle-class, heteronormative, and white. Sadly, this led to attacks upon him by prominent composers like John Cage, a factor that contributed to the long lasting degradation of his legacy that has only just begun to be repaired.




Among the most explicit of the works attending to these subjects - race and sexuality - were those falling under the heading of the “N****r Series”, premiered by Eastman in January of 1980 at Northwestern University, just outside of Chicago. Three of these - “Evil N****r”, “Gay Guerilla”, and “Crazy N****r” - make up the totality of Blume Editon’s “The N****r Series”, originally released in 2018 and now repressed in a beautiful new boxed edition after remaining out of print for almost the entirety of the time.



While none of the works within the “N****r Series” explicitly state they must be executed on piano - being composed by Eastman “for any number of similar instruments” - since their debut by the composer on piano in 1980, they have almost always featured the same instrumentation. The recordings featured within are the earliest known - dating from around 1980 - and are the only to have been realised during the composer’s lifetime. The first of these, “Crazy N***r”, extending to roughly an hour in length, takes up the entirety of the first LP in the collection, and is a sprawling sonic study of startling density and minimalist restraint that traverses a wonderful harmonic and rhythmic range, with it’s final section using the same process as James Tenney’s “Spectral Canon for Conlan Nancarrow”, but notated in a more intuitive way. The second piece, “Evil N****r”, launches forward with franticly paced tonality, moving effortlessly through passages of multi-tonality, before reaching a conclusion of beautiful restraint and sparsely placed notes. The third work in the collection is “Gay Guerrilla”, easily the most dramatic of the three, which rises, in the words of the composer Mary Jane Leach, as «a queer call to arms, both sacred and secular.»




Collectively, these three works - unquestionably among the most politically and creatively radical in Eastman’s entire body of work - generate sprawling soundscapes through adamantly restated patterns and interlocking canons, not fragmenting, but preaching urgent truths.




To quote brilliant Mary Jane Leach liner notes: «He wrote what can be categorized as minimal music, but also wrote “post-minimal” music before minimal music was fully established. His pieces straddle the two main styles of minimal music - rhythmic/pulse driven music (Steve Reich and Philip Glass) and spectral drone music (La Monte Young and Phill Niblock). While using process and rhythmic patterns, there is a flexibility that lends a breathing, organic feel to his music, a muscularity missing in a lot of other music from that time. With the re-emergence of his powerful music, a missing gap in the history of contemporary music has been filled.»



Transcendent and engrossing across its four sides, Blume’s brand new edition of Eastman’s seminal “N****r Series” is a beautiful thing to behold. Containing the original three works, now housed in a beautiful, handmade wooden box, it also includes a 12-page booklet with the original liner notes by Mary Jane Leach and Bradford Bailey, as well as a brand new 2500 word essay by Bailey, new unseen pictures courtesy of Roberto Laneri, and a poster. Incredibly essential on every count.