Sunday, November 25, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: A World of Sonic Contrasts

Michael Moore Trio: Chicoutimi. 1993. Ramboy: 06.

Michael Moore: clarinet
Fred Hersch: piano
Mark Helias: bass

Understated and exquisite. Moore brings a perfect clarinet tone to these short pieces as Hersch and Helias bring a calm, high caliber musicanship to these improvised textures.

Arnold Schoenberg: Moses und Aron. Recorded in 1996. Deutsche Grammophon: 449 174-2.

The Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Pierre Boulez: conductor

The "who est Moses?" lines in the chorus that open the second act is one of my favorite sounds in all of operatic literature. Arnold Schoenberg took the most gaudy, most spectacle-prone medium of "serious" music and expressed a profoundly personal sense of faith. Like most opera, this one is full of quirks that take some adjusting on the part of the listener. Such as the fact that only two acts of a planned three acts were completed. And there is something undeniably strange about hearing the book of Exodus in German. But musically, this one has always had a strong pull for me for the kind of sonic environment Shoenberg created for this ancient story.

Skeleton Crew: Learn To Talk/The Country of Blinds. 1984, 1986 - re-released in 2005. Fred Records/Anthill Music: ReR/FRO 8/9.

Tom Cora: cello, bass guitar, casio, drums, home-made drums and contraptions, singing
Fred Frith: guitar, 6-string bass, violin, casio, home-mades, piano, drums, singing
Zeena Parkins (on The Country of Blinds): organ, electric harp, accordion, drums, singing

There's really no better way to follow up a heady opera than with the extreme contrast of of this 1980's era punk/jazz/noise pair of classics from Skeleton Crew. "It's Fine" from Learn To Talk is pure brilliance while every manipulated sample, hard groove and screamed utterance on these recordings bends toward sarcastic observation that painfully withstands the test of time. The playful beauty of Tom Cora's cello playing is a sound that is sorely missed since his passing in 1998. This is crazy and relentless music that offers razor sharp edges at every turn and it's best appreciated with one's full attention.

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