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Partial Custody

by Max Kutner

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  • While only "Exaggeration Holmes" appears here on Bandcamp, the full album is nearly 67 minutes of music and available exclusively by scanning the QR code printed on these chips. The flip-side of the chip shows a snapshot of the band taken immediately before recording this music.

    With this chip, comes a 12"x12" poster of the artwork as well as an info sheet explaining the song order, times and all credits.
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Going 03:01
Jet Plane 24:30


PARTIAL CUSTODY, the latest project and album from Brooklyn-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Max Kutner, is ultimately about impressions and experience. In sound and practice, this debut recording from his new trio represents a unique evolution in Kutner’s artistic vision. By incorporating more repetitive, trancelike open forms, Kutner is able to better immerse listeners in the full experience of his fantastical sound-world. That said, fans of the more familiar qualities of his work thus far — namely collisions of intricate, math-y jazz, process music and post punk — will reap many rewards from this adventurous collection of tunes.

In mid-2022, Kutner became interested forming a new band involving tuba and drums. This coincided with meeting two of the most inventive and sympathetic musical personalties working in the greater NYC creative community in tubist Ben Stapp and drummer James Paul Nadien. William Parker once called Stapp “a low-brass hero who creates beautiful full-range tuba sounds that make you love the instrument and the musician...and reinvented many aspects of tuba playing regarding the sounds, colors and textures.”

Throughout PARTIAL CUSTODY, Stapp provides grounding bass, singular solos and a menagerie of extended sounds including using mouthpieces from different instruments, electronics and even vacuum attachments. Nadien is a likewise widely renowned member of multiple music scenes with an inimitable combination of boldness, physicality and humor behind and around the drum-kit. Fresh chemistry between the trio was immediate and the music on PARTIAL CUSTODY represents the evolution of that chemistry since the group’s inception. The set is also an exploration of Kutner’s recent considerations of group dynamic interplay through limitations of form and greater sharing of ideas in real time.

Regarding adopting the name PARTIAL CUSTODY, Kutner explains: “That phrase has been in my vocabulary since I was a small child experiencing it in the most familiar sense (pun intended). In a similar sense, the dissolution of previous bands that I helped form or lead over the past decade left a similar feeling of failure or incompletion .Thus, I always associated the term with negativity and conflict. Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my music. For this project, I wanted to experiment with the concept of “partial custody" as a composition tool by creating a platform and context for the group to explore and develop together, which is a different focus from my previous efforts. It became apparent throughout the process that coming at writing like this rejuvenated my interest and inspiration musically without feeling like a hinderance. This is not to say that there is a total absence of more through-composed pieces on PARTIAL CUSTODY but I wanted to see if I could still create music that reminds me of my tastes and thoughts while having openness being more of a feature this time.”

PARTIAL CUSTODY is a vast, multi-fared aural world that moves through novel settings like kaleidoscopic roller coaster. Kutner has said before that he approaches full length albums as compositional forms; carefully curating the material and tone of each original - and also a cover of Brian Eno’s “Bone Jump” - included so as to give a sense of the album as a piece in itself. In that respect, Kutner has layered various guitars, synthesizers and found sounds in each of the seven tracks that adds a dense, psychedelic quality which is particular and undeniably individualistic. Driven by an unbridled, brightly-colored and ever bold zaniness, the group commits fully to whatever setting they happen to find themselves in from the dour, jazz-tinged opener "Whatever Else the News Has Planned" through the Zappa-esque twists and turns of “Exaggeration Holmes" and even to extended, meditative places on “The Bell Mimic” and “Dancing to the Dead Beat”. In line with the writing, Kutner made the decision to only rarely interfere by editing the open performances, displaying the truth of the group’s vibe in all of its chaotic glory. As a result, most of the pieces here exceed six minutes with the final track “Jet Plane” clocking in at over 24 minutes.

PARTIAL CUSTODY is a gargantuan statement that showcases the ever developing voice of a highly unique, driven artist possessing a novel perspective on what that role means in the modern world. Kutner wears the influence of countless heroes on his sleeve at all times (The Mothers of Invention, Magic Band, Carla Bley, Oingo Boingo, Wayne Shorter, Lightning Bolt, Deerhoof, Bela Bartok, Weather Report Mike Keneally, Nels Cline and more) while also providing sonic flavors found only here. He has been featured on prior Orenda Records releases from Evil Genius, Android Trio and Joe Santa Maria. In line with the visionary approach to the writing and conception of the album, Kutner has opted to physically release PARTIAL CUSTODY on unique media in lieu of discs or LPs. Buyers will receive a QR code-stamped casino chip that links directly to a download of the tracks along with a small, foldout poster of the album art from Sunny Allis and Animoscillator.


released April 5, 2024

Max Kutner - guitars, keyboards, samples, objects
Ben Stapp - tuba with and without implements
James Paul Nadien - drumset, glockenspiel

All tracks are composed by Max Kutner (Maladept Music, ASCAP) except "Bone Jump" which was originally written by Brian Eno, Leo Abrahams and John Hopkins.

Produced by Max Kutner
Executively produced by Steve Bartek
Recorded at Parcheesi Studios, Huntington, NY on November 5, 2023
Mixed & mastered by Bob Stander November-Dec 2023
Artwork by Sunny Allis and Animoscillator

This entire album is dedicated to the memory of Elsa Himeles. A sweeter, sillier and gentler fur child has never been known.

"Whatever Else The News Has Planned" is dedicated to Carla Bley
"Going" is dedicated to Mike Keneally
"Exaggeration Holmes" is dedicated to Steve Bartek
"Dancing to the Dead Beat" is dedicated to Nels Cline



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Orenda Records Los Angeles, California

"Boundary-pushing music." –DownBeat Magazine

Orenda Records has been presenting visionary creative music by over 60 artists from Los Angeles and beyond across more than 100 releases since 2014.

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