Saturday, March 29, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Cross-Genre Pollinating

Shonen Knife: Brand New Knife. 1997. MCA/Victor/Big Deal: 9035-2.

Naoko Yamano: vocals, guitar, melotron
Michie Nakatani: vocals, bass
Atsuko Yamano: vocals, drums, percussion

It's punk, with all the visceral pleasures and structural failings often associated with the genre. The additional layer of English-as-second language delivery with the strange phrasing and unusual accents on particular words makes this one disarmingly charming. The unpretentious poetry with its shifting focus on wide ranging - often trivial - subjects speaks toward an inclusive sense of humanity with its range of emotional motivation and twisted intentions.

Brian Sacawa: American Voices. 2007. Innova: 675.

Brian Sacawa: saxophones

Piece in the Shape of a Square - Philip Glass
Pre-Amnesia - Lee Hyla
Pastlife Laptops and Attic Instruments - Erik Spangler
with Erik Spangler: turntables, electronics
Netherland - Chris Theofanidis
with Wenli Zhou: piano
Bacchanalia Skiapodorum - Derek Hurst
Voice Within Voice - Keeril Makan
The Low Quartet - Michael Gordon

In its third pass through the HurdAudio rotation not only do I remain impressed with what these performances reveal about the familiar works of Philip Glass and Michael Gordon, but I also find more revelations in repeated listenings to these clear, clean renditions. In between these two gems of wind-instrument driven minimalism is a healthy, non-dogmatic territory of contemporary creativity. The almost "traditional," chamber virtuosity of Netherland by Chris Theofanidis stands out as a polished work rich with detail. Erik Spangler's Pastlife Laptops and Attic Instruments offers a much needed infusion of pulse and groove that meaningfully folds contemporary vernacular sonic materials into an evolving repertoire. Brian Sacawa brings a balance of thoughtful energy and honest interpretation that brings out flattering details of this living body of music.

Peggy Lee Band: Worlds Apart. 2004. Spool: SPL124.

Peggy Lee: cello
Brad Turner: trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn
Jeremy Berkman: trombone
Tony Wilson: electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Andre Lechance: electric bass, acoustic bass
Dylan van der Schyff: drums
& Ron Samworth (on 4 tracks): electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Inspired by Peggy Lee's warm-up routine prior to a New Orchestra Now performance, an audience member seated behind me commented that they wished to "be a female cello player in my next life." Hearing Peggy Lee perform inspires a similar awe for the life currently being lived and experienced aurally. The fact that she surrounds herself with so many players from Vancouver's vibrant improvisation scene just makes her music even more engaging. Worlds Apart documents a slice of that sonic beauty. The unusual coloration of cello with guitars, drums, bass and brass gives this sound an unusual hue. The composition "Spells" in particular is something special. The interplay of fretted and unfretted strings weaves any number of spells throughout this experience. This one leaves behind a thirst to hear more.

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