At Night

Ben Monder, Theo Bleckmann


Available in multiple DSD rates at NativeDSD thanks to our signature Higher Rates Program.

Original Recording Format: PCM 88.2kHz
Learn about choosing Quality and Channels

Texts drawn from a range of eras and cultures, from Sufi poet Rumi to songwriter Joni Mitchell, are given compelling new interpretations in this atmospheric collaboration by guitarist Ben Monder, vocalist Theo Bleckmann, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. Monder, one of the most versatile guitarists in jazz, is currently a member of The Bad Plus.
– Mark Werlin

A singer whose voice is provocatively outré yet emotionally inside the song; a guitarist whose long fingers stretch across strings and frets to create chords you’ve never heard before – when they found time from their busy careers to pursue a 12-year collaboration, you’d expect the results to be beautiful and strange, a compelling listen. You’d expect the poetry and shadows, but maybe not the wilder moments (like Bleckmann’s vocals on plunger or electronically altered toy megaphone).

Ben Monder‘s peers hold him in considerable awe for his single-minded commitment to his art – the sound completely his own; the range of his stylistic reach from standards to avant jazz and improv to his classical guitar compositions. Theo Bleckmann, beyond his cachet as a jazz singer (protegé of Sheila Jordan; re-interpretations of standards) is the renaissance man of contemporary vocal performance, his resumé of collaborations a who’s who, from Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass to the Estonian Radio Choir and Mark Morris Dance. His passion is to embody music in every possible way.

Like their previous Songlines collaboration No Boat and Theo’s quintet Origami, At Night is a study in contrasts that flows together into a unified statement. A recurring element is the settings of texts by the Sufi poet Rumi. Bleckmann’Monder evoke the interior depths, along with the sensuous warmth of his meditations on God and earthly beauty; no surprise that this mystic drunkard would appeal to their sense of adventure, their delight in play in the awakened, improvisational moment. Another strand is covers of pop songs – Joni Mitchell in tender empathy, the Beatles in psychedelic splendor. Then there are the wordless songs and textural improvs, several featuring Satoshi Takeishi’s darting, glancing approach to percussion and electronics. So what’s the through-line? Monder refers to “a balanced flow of energy.” Theo, talking about his use of live electronics, offers some other clues:

“For me it’s important to have a physical connection to the processing. In a nutshell: I push a button and when I push it again the loop repeats, decays, elongates etc. Building up multiple vocal lines can sometimes make time and music stand still, something I’m going for in ‘Late, by Myself.’ Each song or melody has to have a distinct sense of purpose. I most often sing wordless music, so that when I do sing lyrics I’m always trying to think of their meaning beyond the individual sentence or word to give the song its purpose. I like to convey a larger sense of mood or state of mind. Using layering in a song that has a lyric is always an extension of the words and the overall atmosphere or underlying soundscape….Each player in this trio is very autonomous, musically speaking. Three sonic worlds can exist simultaneously and create a fourth. Free improvisation is so delicate on so many levels and there’s a good balance here of making bold statements, being sensitive to one another and playing irreverently all at once.” – Theo Bleckmann, vocals / electronics

Theo Bleckmann – vocals, electronics
Ben Monder – guitar
Satoshi Takeishi – drums, percussion


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Late, by Myself
Sunny Sunday
Animal Planet
Norwegian Wood
At Night

Total time: 01:03:14

Additional information





, , , ,


, ,




, , , ,



Audio Engineer

Aya Takemura

Mixing & Mastering

Graemme Brown at Zen Mastering.


, , ,

Original Recording Format

Recording Location

Recorded 6/13/2005 and 12/30/2005 at Brooklyn Recording, Brooklyn NY.

Release DateMay 3, 2024

Press reviews


There is a fine sense of balance on the recording. Both Monder and Bleckmann have a quirky sense of humor which is transmitted to their music. This is seen in the way they set up the instrumentation and bring in a new twist. They have their serious side manifested in the ethereal beauty that flows through the songs, which does not stop them from painting some black. (…) Texture and dynamics are constantly forged which makes listening to this CD a constant surprise.


Bleckmann possesses technique so colossal, yet so meticulous, he can seem otherworldly, an android-like embodiment of sci-fi vocalisms, a bodily vessel for that voice. … Cinematic and transporting are not descriptive enough adjectives to apply. Not only is the music a soundtrack to a yet existent motion picture, it is inspiration enough for its own film. Not only will hearing stir each listener into their own voyage, it will propel them to other journeys.

Jazz Times

On At Night, the duo’s second recording, Theo Bleckmann and Ben Monder make the kind of music that critics often describe as genre-defying. Bleckmann, a vocalist who also contributes what he calls “live electronic processing,” sings in an off-kilter style that is reminiscent of Gastr Del Sol’s David Grubbs and Shudder to Think’s Craig Wedren, two of post-punk’s artiest crooners. And Monder, an electric guitarist, alternates between lighter-than-air melodies and distortion-rich atmospherics that suggest no one so much as John Abercrombie. Together, they sound otherwordly. It’s tempting to just say that this record is a beaut and leave it at that. But music this unusual requires a caveat. You see, for all of its gorgeousness—which is, on several tracks, bolstered by drummer Satoshi Takeishi—At Night’s vocals are an acquired taste. Bleckmann gives the lyrics odd shapes, and his higher-pitched moments make Joni Mitchell, whose “Sunny Sunday” is covered here, seem sort of butch. None of which makes this record any less good. It just makes it different—or maybe more mysterious. And the lyrics only add to the enigma. “No light and no land anywhere,” Bleckmann sings on the opener, “Late, By Myself.” “Cloud-cover thick/I try to stay/just above the surface/yet I’m already under/and living within the ocean.” As far as themes go, it’s a pretty good way to introduce a record that rewards unskeptical submersion. Knowing what to call this music doesn’t make it any more enjoyable. Sometimes it’s best just to dive right in.

DownBeat virtuosic and inventive a pair…the two share a subtle discipline that results in a focused, cohesive whole….For all its layered density, the album is about nothing so much as atmosphere. At Night is the intimate sound of being alone inside one’s own head. Bleckmann’s keening vocals flow over Monder’s cascading steel-string arpeggios, like a waterfall’s constant roar full of smaller ripples and eddies….Bleckmann never takes the traditional jazz vocalist’s approach to interpreting a lyric; he is much more of an instrumentalist, not just because of his frequent use of wordless vocals but because he distorts a lyric to conjure his own mood. Witness his haunting elongation of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Sunny Sunday’ or the way he strangles The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’ into tense overtones while Monder’s distorted axe snarls and bashes underneath….Rarely have such individual musicians sounded so single-minded.


There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.

You may also like…

More from this label