Sunday, January 18, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Honest Noises

Billy Bang: Vietnam: The Aftermath. 2001. Justin Time Records: Just 165-2.

Billy Bang: violin
Ted Daniel: trumpet
Frank Lowe: tenor saxophone
Sonny Fortune: flute
John Hicks: piano
Curtis Lundy: bass
Ron Brown: percussion
Michael Carvin: drums
Butch Morris: guest conductor

A great jazz album - and tremendous act of self expression - in every sense. Profoundly introspective compositions that draw upon both personal experience and a mingling of traditions and sounds of North American Jazz with East Asian influences unified by the soul of this violinist. Added to this emotionally and aesthetically powerful mix is the band enlisted by Sargent Bang. Transcendent and compelling music that swings. This is one recording session that should endure for all the different ways it appeals to the mind and heart.

Laurie Anderson: Life On A String. 2001. Nonesuch: 79539-2.

Laurie Anderson: vocals, keyboards, violins, gongs
with various (small) combinations of:
Elena Barere: concert master - Joey Baron: drums, percussion - Martin Brumback: percussion arrangement - Vinicius Cantuaria: percussion - Mino Cinelu: percussion - Timothy Cobb: bass - Greg Cohen: acoustic bass - Jill Dell'Abate: orchestra conductor - Enrico DiCecco: violin - Jonathan Dinklage: violin - Karen Dreyfus: viola - Barry Finclair: violin - Danny Frankel: percussion, hand claps, "box-o-toys" - Eric Friedlander: cello - Bill Frisell: guitar - Jean Ingram: violin - Mitchell Froom: keyboards, claviola, mellotron, wurlitzer - Liheng: baritone banhu - Vincent Lionti: viola - Eyvind Kang: violin - John Kelly: background vocals - Ann Leathers: violin - Jeanne LeBlanc: cello - Dwight Mikkelsen: copyist - Heidi Modr: violin - Jan Mullen: violin - Tom Nelis: vocals - Van Dyke Parks: string arrangements, conductor, keyboards - Ellen Payne: violin - Joel Pitchon: violin - Sue Pray: viola - Lou Reed: guitar - Ben Rubin: bells - Peter Scherer: keyboards, percussion - Jamshied Sharifi: additional keyboards, strings - Ricky Sortomme: violin - Skuli Sverrisson: bass, little organ, percussion programming, high bass, sounds, bowed guitars, keyboards - Chris Speed: saxophone - Cuong Vu: trumpet - Carol Webb: violin - Judith Willmer: viola - Hal Willner: turntables, samples - Mocean Worker: beats, keyboards - Fredrick Zlotkin: cello

A collection of songs for the "downtown" set. Not just a collaboration with a cross-section of so many of downtown NYC's most impressive talents, but an adaptation of Laurie Anderson's approach to song that folds in so much of that constantly emerging aesthetic. Many of the turns of verbal phrase would collapse if not for Anderson's odd consistency. A few of the opening lines come close to reinforcing Anderson-esque cliche (songs that open with a question that are answered in the following line or sideways references to the Old Testament come to mind). But again, there is this sense that no other songwriter could pull off such quirks with so much conviction. The result is gem that reflects light in unexpected directions.

X.0.4: Cataracts. 2008. Ecstatic Peace!: E#105d (LP)

Bill Nace: guitar
John Truscinski: guitar
Jake Meginsky: guitar

One of the things that impressed me about Bill Nace at the most recent High Zero Festival is how he mines noise without coming off sounding saturated or loud. His textures bear all the markings of "loud" without the decibels of pain. Within small and large ensembles he is a forceful presence that balances well the overall sound. With X.0.4 we have a trio of similarly distortion heavy, full on noise enthusiasts with restraint. The resulting sound is uncompromisingly ugly and beautiful. Drones, jagged edges and an electricity that never consumes the sound in amplification. This is a sculpted mass that is well worth hearing.

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