Sunday, November 11, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: The Charms of Atlantis Nath

Dave Douglas: Charms of the Night Sky. 1998. Winter & Winter: 910 015-2.

Dave Douglas: trumpet
Mark Feldman: violin
Guy Klucevsek: accordion
Greg Cohen: bass

The fragile, clear tone Dave Douglas brings to these pieces make this a standout recording from his catalogue. With plenty of cadenzas from each of the players on this disc (especially the great violin solo that opens "Dance in Thy Soul") and beautiful arrangements tailored for this drummerless quartet, this one is a compelling combination of great improvisers focused in the service of interpreting incredible music.

Elliott Sharp/Terraplane: Blues for Next. 2000. Knitting Factory Records: KFW-285.

Elliott Sharp: electric guitar, console steel guitar, national steel guitar, tenor saxophone
Sim Cain: drums, electronic percussion
Sam Furnace: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
David Hofstra: electric bass, acoustic bass
with guests:
Dean Bowman: vocals
Eric Mingus: vocals
Hubert Sumlin: electric guitar

To my ears, it's still the "Quartet" disc of this double-CD that is the bigger draw as Sharp's angular melodic sensibilities adapt well to the blues band configuration. But the "Plus" disc grows on me a little more with each spin and does add some additional color with the guest artist contributions. "Chemically" is starting to strike me as overly clever despite the painful honesty of the story being told by the song's narrator. "Long Dark Sky" and "Baptism of Concrete" hit a compelling balance (buoyed along by Eric Mingus' fine vocal work).

Terry Riley: Atlantis Nath. 2001. Sri Moonshine Music: 001.

Terry Riley: compositions, voice, midi programming, piano, synthesizer
Luc Martinez: sound design, recording
Frederic Lepee: acoustic fretless guitar
John Deaderick: spoken text
Nice Opera String Quartet

As a polished, meandering concept-album filled with strange quirks and detours Atlantis Nath has inordinate appeal for these ears. While the use of midi realizations and the practice of recording voice over such arrangements would spell disaster, or at least come off sounding like an amateurish demo tape for most artists, there's an odd, overwhelming charm when Terry Riley does it. The solo piano work "Ascencion" is the gem lurking in the center of this experience set in stark contrast to the post-processed sound design and over dubbed voices that surround it. There is plenty of room to find fault in the midi sound and the acquired taste that Terry Riley's singing voice can be. But the overall experience is compelling enough to smooth over such elements while the final sound feels more genuine as a result of its rough patches.

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