Friday, November 16, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: The Euro-centric Edition

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 1]. Recorded in 1994. The International Music Company: 205297-305.

Performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Symphony No. 1 in C Major (op.21)

Barry Wordsworth: conductor

Symphony No. 2 in D Major (op.36)
James Lockhart: conductor

Insanely familiar and incredibly refreshing all at once. The flashbacks to undergraduate music history courses have subsided to the point where I can put fresh ears on the most "glue-like" of the war horses. Beethoven at his most politely classical at four movements each. And the third movement is the shortest, and lightest in contrast to the other three movements in each of these symphonies. To my ears, these movements stand on their own and sound less integrated with these works as a whole compared to his later symphonies. And that third movement from the first symphony may be the original "short ride in a fast machine."

Donkey Monkey: Ouature. 2007. Umlaut Records: UMCD 0005.

Yuko Oshima: drums, voice, sampler
Eve Risser: piano, voice, turntables

There's a playful energy to this music that will have you bouncing off the walls and uttering "Donkey Monkey, Donkey Monkey" over and over again with gleeful abandon. And that's just in the first twenty seconds of this rockin' experimental boogie jam fun-fest. Eve Risser flashes some impressive piano chops that veers through an omnivorous pool of contrasting styles as Yuko Oshima propels things along with her energetic drumming. There's also a wonderful take on Carla Bley's "Wrong Key Donkey" in this set. These ears could go for a lot more of this.

Chicago Tentet: American Landscapes 1. 2007. Okkadisk: OD12067.

Peter Brötzmann: composition, clarinet, tarogato, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, cover art
Mats Gustafsson: baritone saxophone, slide saxophone
Ken Vadnermark: clarinet, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone
Joe McPhee: trumpet, alto saxophone
Hannes Bauer: trombone
Per-ake Holmlander: tuba
Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello
Kent Kessler: bass
Paal Nilssen-Love: drums
Michael Zerang: drums

Time is the canvas, and the music on this disc - like the watercolor painting that shares the 'American Landscapes' name on the cover - is painted by the ferocious and captivating sensibilities of German saxophonist/painter Peter Brötzmann. His willingness to shade toward towering dissonance and deep layers of noisy excess gives rise to textures of captivating beauty and raw emotional energy that speaks directly toward the aggressive and often angry side of the human condition. The single movement work of American Landscapes 1 draws its own watercolor sheen from this large ensemble of sympathetic improvisers to produce a sound that veers wildly between extremes of densities in the service of a large scale sonic image. An image that reflects the complexities, anxieties and beauty of contemporary life within the "American Landscape."

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