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Anthony Vine & Jack Langdon

"The Generous Law"

Houghton Memorial Chapel


Wellesley, Massachusetts

track one: July 27, 2022 - 1pm [11:56]
track two: July 27, 2022 - 4pm [5:57]

track three: July 28, 2022 - 9am [9:08]

track four: July 27, 2022 - 6pm [7:25]

track five: July 28, 2022 - 5pm [8:30]

track six: July 27, 2022 - 3pm [4:07]

track seven: July 28, 2022 - 2pm [7:20]

track eight: July 17, 2022 - 3pm [9:57]

track nine: July 27, 2022 - 11am [10:37]

total runtime: [74:57]

“I think you are writing about the generous law that exists in art. A law which can never be given but only found anew each time in the making of the work. It is a law, too, which allows your forms (characters) to spin away, take off, as if they have their own lives to lead—unexpected too—as if you cannot completely control it all. I wonder why we seek this generous law as I call it. For we do not not know how it governs—and under what special conditions it comes into being. I don’t think we are permitted to know other than temporarily. A disappearance act. The only problem is how to keep away from the minds that close in and itch (God knows why) to define it.”

Philip Guston to Ross Feld

In the musty recesses of the Houghton Chapel at Wellesley College stands a large pipe organ built by Charles Brenton Fisk, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and channeled his guilt into building organs. To access the organ’s console, one must step around a large wind system comprised of room-sized bellows that can be pumped by motor or hand. For Fisk, this apparatus made the organ “seem to be alive,” to breathe.

Its other bygone features—quarter-comma meantone tuning and 17th c. Danish and German stops—were added to give organists access to sonorities only found in historic European churches. Resurrecting this lost sonorous past echoes the design of the chapel itself, a braiding of ecclesiastical motifs with no historical center, designed to impart a sense of old-world sacredness. Fisk’s ahistorical mélange yielded something extraordinary, not a cheap replica or period imitation, but an instrument of sui generis chroma and expressivity.

“The Generous Law,” a new album by organist Jack Langdon and guitarist Anthony Vine, presents a 75-minute glimpse of the inner voices and acoustical splendor of the Fisk Organ. At the keyboards, Langdon crafts geometries of patiently braided lines and incisions, configuring the hues and shades of organ stops with an ear to the materiality of sound. Vine seizes on this, tuning his guitar to the organ and bringing his strings into alignment with the harmonics of the reeds and pipes, becoming an extension of the instrument, an organ stop of sorts. The guitar flows in and around Langdon’s angular counterpoint, like the shimmer between the divots of a jigsaw puzzle, illuminating its matrix.

The idioverse of Langdon and Vine is defined less by interior imaginations and composition, and more by the inexplicable pull of the organ, its guiding voice. Philip Guston speaks to this abstract, yet ubiquitous dynamic in artmaking with his notion of the “generous law,” the namesake for this collection. This music is not driven by concept, process, or system, but by the wanderlust of sound and time.


Anthony Vine is a composer and guitarist living in Brooklyn. His works explore the resonance of instrumental and architectural spaces, mythologies of the American Midwest, and the ecstatic potential of tone. Now in his "gospel period," spiritual things have become central concerns. Recent projects include a collection of short essays on acoustic treatments in medieval churches, a trio for Longleash based on a 13th century motet from the Montpellier Codex, and 'The Song of St. Bazetta,' a hagiographic concerto commissioned by the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus. Vine serves as a teaching-artist position at The Filomen M. D'Agostino Music School, where he helps people with vision loss pursue their study of music.

Jack Langdon is an organist, video artist, and writer.​Jack's work disintegrates commonplace sounds, images, and narratives—reassembling them in strange constructions. His music is gentle and expansive, drawing inspiration from the landscape and folk modernisms of the American Midwest.

Jack is an organist, whose approach to performance investigates the unique qualities of individual organs—utilizing drones, extended techniques, and electronic augmentations. Jack is a proponent of contemporary organ music and regularly creates new work in collaboration with other performers, composers, and artists. His recordings have been released by Sawyer Editions and Lobby Art Records.

Jack currently lives in Chicago, Illinois and is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

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