The music of CARM features horns in roles typically reserved for drums, guitars, and voices, while also escaping the genre categorizations reserved for music featuring an instrumentalist as bandleader. It is not jazz or classical music, nor is it a soundtrack. This is contemporary popular music that features a sound normally used as a background color and texture as the unabashed lead voice.
According to CARM, aka CJ Camerieri, "It started with the question: 'What kind of record would my trumpet-playing heroes from the past make today?' I believe they would want to work with the best producers, beatmakers, song-writers, and singers to create new, truly culturally relevant music, and that's what I sought to do with this project."
Produced in Minneapolis by Ryan Olson (Polica, Lizzo) and featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights, and many others, it's a completely unique sound that additionally serves as a survey of the collaborations that have come to define the artist's career thus far. Says Vernon, "I truly believe there isn't a more accomplished brass player in the entire world of music. And this is way more than a 'horn' record. It's a discovery of new heights with what is possible in creating music."
The album begins with an orchestral brass choir of French horns, which quickly gives way to a piano sample of Francis and the Lights, as Stevens and Luppen combine voices over a lush bed of horns to sing "Song of Trouble." The album bookends with the same piano sample used as a springboard to a beautiful and iconic lyric by Vernon in the album closer "Land."
Between these two generation-defining artists we have the upward sweeping melodies in "Soft Night," fanfares reminiscent of Ennio Morricone in "Nowhere," and the uncompromisingly original sound of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo in "Already Gone." Two dark and mysterious journeys in "After Hours" and "Invisible Walls" give way to the virtuoso sound of Nova's voice, who the artist stood side-by-side with during his first Sufjan Stevens tour over a decade ago.
"Slantwise" and "Scarcely Out" take us back down a more experimental path before the strings from yMusic members Rob Moose and Gabriel Cabezas bring us back to the piano sample that started the record. Given the oversaturated contemporary music market that often recycles well-trodden sounds, CARM offers a respite for those seeking an original voice.