Album Release: “Skylighght” // Gelsey Bell // Chaikin Records

Date: May 10, 2024

Vocalist Gelsey Bell and Saxophonist Erin Rogers Announce Debut Duo Album Skylighght out May 10th on Chaikin Records, Share Single “Echidna Chasm”

On Skylighght, Gelsey Bell and Erin Rogers craft new performative techniques evoking luminous sonorities of interlaced resonance

Photo by AnnAnn Puttithanasorn | click for high-res download

Press Embargo: April 3rd, 2024

Today vocalist Gelsey Bell and saxophonist Erin Rogers announced their debut album as a duo, Skylighght, out May 10th, 2024, on Brian Chase’s Chaikin Records. Along with the announcement, the pair shared the album’s lead track “Echidna Chasm.” 

The project draws inspiration from and gives a nod to, the infamous one-word poem “lighght” by Adam Saroyan, described by the poet as a way “to try and make the ineffable, which is light… into a thing. An extra ‘gh’ does it…” Skylighght, in a similar manner, sets out to make the physical acoustic elements of resonance, timbre, and breath into intangible expressive energies. Single “Echidna Chasm” features a highly distinctive compositional and performative technique inherent to the album. Emphasizing their conceptual framework of sonic mergence, Bell sings directly into the bell of Rogers’ saxophone; her voice travels through the brass windings of the horn, the fingering of the keys, and up to the reed, creating competing columns of sound waves to be manipulated while Rogers is playing. The physical vibrations and resonance tones clash, combine, and unite to create vibrant harmonies, harsh dissonances, and stunning difference tones. Two become one in a purely responsive, sensitive, and cooperative process.


Singer Gelsey Bell and saxophonist Erin Rogers have created a music built upon mutual sensitivity. The sounds from each musician join together and intertwine as they cooperatively build each composition, and neither can move without impacting the other. The interlaced vibrations from voice and saxophone unite and react in a dynamic interplay as the two musicians become one in sound. The acoustic resonance of physical environment plays its part as well to inform an interactive relationship between performer and space. Their interwoven resonances sculpt the compositions like a dance, with the two performers linked in movement of pitch and pulse. Moods on the album range from serene to yearning to discordant, often within a single composition, yet a sense of stillness is consistent from beginning to end.

Compositionally, the pieces of Skylighght are scored, each with its own emphasis on a specific set of techniques or strategies, though improvisation plays a primary role in determining structure and performance. Many variables contribute to this requisite spontaneity such as the acoustics of physical spaces and the relative unpredictability of the performers’ interaction, key factors which determine the unfolding of the pieces. Both musicians follow the sound with the intention of reinforcing and playing off of the shared resonances of each other’s sonic space. Performative techniques often include microtonal pitch frameworks and drones to help focus the music in this way. Perhaps the most distinctive performance technique of many Skylighght compositions is that of Bell singing into the bell of Rogers’s saxophone while Rogers is playing. With this technique, Bell pushes her voice through the same curves and material of the horn as well as the same augmentations of Rogers’s fingerings; Bell’s voice also reaches and activates the saxophone’s reed. On Skylighght, the duo of Bell and Rogers discover and articulate sounds, tonalities and multiphonics that are unique to their pairing.

Bell and Rogers have performed together for more than a decade, primarily in the new music composer/performer collective thingNY, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2006 dedicated to the creation and performance of contemporary classical, new opera, and genre-bending works. Over the last five years, their musical partnership has opened to their Skylighght project and to developing its repertoire and methodology. Breath and whistles, lip pops, and tongue clicks are all part of the Skylighght vocabulary. Even the thickness of the reed Rogers selects can have a ripple effect. Challenges and conditions also become necessary parts of performing these pieces. “The things that are hard for us force us to go to different levels of breath technique,” Bell explains. “I don’t think I could sing the stuff  that I need to sing if I hadn’t had operatic training.” Rogers adds, “I have to play louder in order to counter the sound wave coming from a different direction. If we’re not pushing to that level, then the piece doesn’t really exist. We’re still studying the technique and how we can optimize every performance.”

In 2022, Bell and Rogers published a prose score to Skylighght in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies. The article serves as a document of their extensive research which they shared in hope that other performers would make their own discoveries within the written instructions. An excerpt of that printed score, for a musical section referred to as “Building Canyons” (heard on the album in the tracks “Echidna Chasm” and “Antelope Canyon”), reads:

“The saxophonist plays a concert Bb2 at mezzo-forte, straight-tone, droning as long as possible, circular-breathing freely to sustain sound at all times while shifting into the upper harmonics (Bb3, F4, etc.) smoothly and at will… Throughout the piece, the vocalist sings long phrases that slide into and out of intervals like a slug, sometimes ending with a downward glissando… The goal of this section is for the performers to find the pitches that make multiphonics and lean into them. The pitch and pressure of the voice in the bell pushes the saxophone tone into different harmonic regions, splitting the pitch at times, or coaxing it to matching distant partials.”

Complimenting the performance techniques of the Skylighght project is the hyper-awareness of its acoustic environment. The sonic resonance of space functions like an additional performer to the pair of Bell and Rogers. For this album, two of the same pieces were each recorded in two very different locations: a small, stone catacomb in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery and a beautiful studio live room (at Oktaven Audio in Mt. Vernon, NY). The renditions of each piece stand as distinct interpretations and comprise four of Skylighght’s five tracks.

Skylighght is an innovative album expressing a rare poetics of sound hinged on the union of musicians and environment. As physical vibrations radiate forth, rebound and combine, the performers coax their resonances and dynamics into intuitively felt energies. Stillness and discord alternately swell and subside in interlocked play with one another.

Album Art | Click for high-res download

Gelsey Bell & Erin Rogers – Skylighght

Release Date: May 10th, 2024

Label: Chaikin Records


1. Echidna Chasm

2. Anhumas Abyss

3. Twin Pollux

4. Nereo Cave

5. Antelope Canyon


Gelsey Bell – Voice

Erin Rogers – Saxophone

Ryan Streber – Engineer at Oktaven Studios for recording of “Echidna Chasm” and “Anhumas Abyss”; Zach Herchen – Engineer at Green-Wood Cemetery Catacombs for recording of “Twin Pollux”, “Nereo Cave” and “Antelope Canyon”

Ryan Streber – Mixing

Carl Rowatti – Mastering

Leah Asher – Album art

Brian Chase – Layout

Kevin Bud Jones – Layout and design



Gelsey Bell is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary performance creator, composer, and vocalist. She has been described by the New York Times as “one of New York’s most  adventurous musicians” and “a charismatic and fiercely intelligent performer.” Her recent works include mɔɹnɪŋ [morning//mourning] (2023), presented in the Prototype Festival;  “From the Soil Back to the Soil” (2023) for the Daxophone Consort; Cairns (2020), a  soundwalk for Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (included on the New York Times Best  Theater of 2020 list); shuffleyamamba: Yamamba as a Bear (2021), created with Yasuko  YokoshithingNY’s SubtacTTTTTTTTT (2020); Varispeed’s The Blurring Test (2022);  and Skylighght (2019), created with Erin Rogers. She has also made work with Kimberly  Bartosik, Erik Ruin, Anna Sperber, and Modern Garage Movement. She has released multiple albums on Gold Bolus Recordings and received awards from the Foundation for  Contemporary Arts, Opera America, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, New Music  USA, and the Japan Foundation, and recent residencies at Pioneer Works, HERE Arts  Center, Mount Tremper Arts and the Kinosaki Arts Center in Japan. She has a PhD from  New York University in Performance Studies and is part-time faculty in the College of  Performing Arts at the New School.

“[C]elebrated for her performances in the highly conceptual (and textual) operas of Robert  Ashley and Kate Soper […] Her work engages with drone music as well as with free improvisation textures familiar from the outer reaches of experimental jazz.” – New York Times

“[A] charismatic and fiercely intelligent performer whose résumé extends from guerrilla street  theater to Broadway.” – New York Times

“[O]ne of these enviable renaissance women who can create something at once daring in both  vision and style and utterly unpretentious.” – Parterre Box


Based in New York City, Erin Rogers is a Canadian-American saxophonist,  composer, and improviser dedicated to new and experimental music. Her work ranges from chamber music performance to solo experimental improvisation to individual and collaborative compositions that incorporate live electronics, theatre, and text.  Rogers is co-artistic director of NYC-based performance ensembles thingNY, New  Thread Quartet, Hypercube and Popebama, a member of LA-based Wild Up, and has performed with the International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea, Wet Ink, and  Copland House among many more. Rogers’ music has been performed at Lincoln  Center, Carnegie Hall, Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg), Roulette Intermedium, Centro  Nacional de las Artes (Mexico City), MATA Festival, Merkin Hall, Prototype Festival,  Winspear Centre (Edmonton), Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid), and NyMusikk  Bergen (Norway). She has received commissions and honors from The Barlow  Endowment, Library of Congress, Robert Bielecki Foundation, Copland House,  ASCAP, and the Jerome Foundation. Her solo album 2000 Miles was listed in Best  Experimental Music on Bandcamp. Rogers is a Chamber Music Society of Lincoln  Center Teaching Artist and Co-Chair of the Manhattan School of Music Contemporary Performance Program and Co-Artistic Director of the Tactus Ensemble.

“[A] richly expressive display of stentorian brilliance” Review of “2000 Miles” from Relative Pitch Records – The Wire Magazine 

“[F]illed with aggression, Rogers is equally adept at subtlety” – Bandcamp

“[O]ften hyper urgent and fast-acting, in the relaxed time scale of this performance,  Rogers savored every extended-technique tool in her embouchure” – New York Times

Press Embargo: April 3rd, 2024

For all media inquiries contact Helly Manson: / 435-640-5341

RIYL: Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, Eliane Radigue, John Butcher, Ryoji Ikeda

Posted on April 3, 2024 by erin

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