The Almond started as a short study for trumpet for the British website Compost and Height. Nate Wooley, a rising young composer known mostly for his radical recontextualization of the trumpet in improvisation and jazz music, was, at the time, feeling constricted by the sound based language he had been using up to that point in both his live solo playing and his earlier solo records. His goal was to make a true solo trumpet record, using only the trumpet as it was intended to be played with no extended techniques. This challenge spawned a 20-minute piece that, at the surface level, was a quick, arcing narrative made up glacially shifting textures of pure pitched sound.
The process behind the piece was much more complex, however, as each pitch heard in the piece was made up of anywhere from three to ten different recordings of the trumpet recorded in different mutes, tunings, with different microphones, and in different rooms. The result was each note of the piece, now expanded to 70 minutes in its final version, takes on a synthesized aspect, sometimes sounding like a voice, others like an organ, but always maintaining some timbral tie to the trumpet. With the exception of one very low pedal tone, all the pitches are played on a regular embouchure, again a far cry from Wooley's usual work.
The piece grew to 70 minutes as a formal construction for the presentation of materials became clear to the composer. What is on the recording, The Almond, is a much different piece of work from the early, raw 20-minute study that spawned it. Now the materials appear and return in the same relaxed pace, but they seem to grow out of each other, spatialized in a way that suggests a more organic movement than the tedious tape preparation outlined above would suggest. Groups of pitches appear and recede, creating phantom overtones of ghostly singing as they interact with other harmonies already present in the work. In the original sketch, posted on Compost and Height, Wooley suggests that The Almond should be listened to at a high volume or better yet in headphones. The extended version of the work, here presented for the first time, is better experienced loud on speakers with time to listen in a relaxed way to the complete 70 minutes, allowing the listener to follow the entrance and exit of each new harmony."-Pogus