Death Blues’ incredible album Ensemble landed at #2 on our list of the 25 best Milwaukee albums of 2014, but it really deserved to be on a list by itself: Jon Mueller and William Ryan Fritch’s dense, heavy, and gorgeous instrumental meditation on the impermanence of the present moment is completely unlike anything else released this year. It’s the culmination of Mueller’s long-form Death Blues project—a project that has taken the form of live shows, written works, and multi-media head-trips for Alverno Presents—and a stunning achievement in its own right. If you haven’t already, put on some headphones, cue it up, and dig in.
But before you do that, be sure to watch the new, Chris Hefner-directed video for the album’s final track, “Onward.” Like Ensemble itself, the clip is abstract, haunting, and darkly beautiful. Plus, it features a bunch of old-timey nurses messing around with white sheets (burial shrouds?), perfect for contemplating life, death, and the fleeting nature of everything in between.