Frozen Reeds is bringing Julius Eastman’s Femenine to vinyl for the first time. The Helsinki-based label has announced a reissue of a 1974 performance by the S.E.M. Ensemble, with Eastman on piano. The Femenine vinyl remaster is due out May 30.
The album has been remastered from the original high-definition tape transfer by Jim O’Rourke at his Steamroom studio in Japan. It features republished liner notes written by the composer and author Mary Jane Leach, who first met Eastman in the early 1980s and has been a central figure in efforts to archive his work. In 2015, the University of Rochester Press published Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music, a collection of essays on Eastman that Leach co-edited alongside Renee Levine-Packer.
As Leach said in a statement, “Eastman’s stated aim with Femenine was to please listeners, saying of the piece that ‘the end sounds like the angels opening up heaven… should we say euphoria?’”
Frozen Reeds’ Femenine reissue is one of a handful of efforts to preserve Eastman’s work. Last year, the Los Angeles collective Wild Up released new studio recordings of the composition. They followed it with Julius Eastman, Vol. 2: Joy Boy, the second entry in a seven-volume Eastman anthology from the ensemble. (Wild Up’s performance of “Stay on It” from that album is up for Best Orchestral Performance at the 2023 Grammy Awards.)
Revisit Pitchfork’s 2016 review of Femenine.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the new release date of May 30.