Absolute Zero is Grammy award winning pianist, singer and songwriter Bruce Hornsby's fourth studio album as a soloist; his discography spans eleven total studio albums, including his recordings as Bruce Hornsby and the Range and Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers. Aquarium Drunkard spoke with Hornsby about the album and notes, "Hornsby's new album, Absolute Zero, furthers his commitment to chasing inspiration, no matter what unlikely places he may end up doing so. From the harmony-laced title song to the Steve Reich-ian ‘Fractals' to the cresting anthem ‘Voyager One,' the record is defiantly unclassifiable. One gets the sense that's the goal. While many musicians settle into an artistic groove, 33 years removed from his commercial breakthrough, Absolute Zero finds Hornsby exploring sound as boldly as ever."
The genesis of Absolute Zero began within Hornsby's work as a film composer for writer-director Spike Lee. Hornsby started collaborating with Lee in 1992; ultimately, in 2008, he began scoring for Lee. What began to intrigue him were scoring components known as "cues," those comparatively brief passages of music used in films to heighten certain narrative visuals and/or spoken developments. Additionally, Hornsby's interest in literary fiction, specifically the work of Don DeLillo and the late David Foster Wallace, inspired his songwriting. Hornsby's songs, both in spirit and memory, function collectively as a homage to fiction writing that, while often poetic, takes no prisoners. The multi-faceted album is another example of Hornsby's constant musical evolution and how he's able to combine disparate elements into an accessible soundscape.
Predominantly produced by Hornsby, the 10-track album includes added production from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers, Andrew Bird, Public Image Ltd.) and Brad Cook (Sharon Van Etten, Hiss Golden Messenger). Absolute Zero also includes musical contributions from yMusic, The Staves, Blake Mills, Jack DeJohnette, Sean Carey, the The Orchestra of St. Hanks (Frost School/Univ. of Miami), Hornsby's longtime band The Noisemakers and more. The track "Cast-Off" was co-written with Vernon who also duets with Hornsby on the track while "Take You There (Misty)" was co-written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.