Part of presenting a festival that aims to sample from the cutting edge of music is taking chances on ensembles and ideas that, at least publicly, don’t yet exist. For Big Ears 2019, we were happy to do that with Columbia Icefield, the quartet of Nate Wooley, Mary Halvorson, Susan Alcorn, and Ryan Sawyer. (Not a tough decision, huh?) Until yesterday, they’d never announced their existence. But you can now hear “Lionel Trilling,” the first track from their debut LP, due on Northern Spy in February. Inspired by the massive Canadian glacial system and the river it feeds, these tracks are seemingly monolithic masses that teem with unexpected layers and interconnections. You can hear that at work on this staggering sample. We can’t wait to host this band at Big Ears 2019. Listen here.