Sunday, August 09, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Deep and Dirty Projectors

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes. 2008. ECM Records: 2027.

Marilyn Crispell: piano

The "deep lyricism" of Marilyn Crispell's current creative incarnation sears deep into this solo expression. Within these spare, melodically focused tracks there are so many different dimensions along which Crispell will vary things. A universe of nuance falls under her fingers as the spaces between notes and chords expands and contracts along a wide horizon. Unpredictable yet structured within Crispell's distinct sensibilities. In many ways, this is a music that reaches deeper toward the spirituality of John Coltrane that first inspired Marilyn Crispell to take up improvised music.

Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca. 2009. Domino Recording Company: DNO217CD.

David Longstreth: vocals, guitar
Amber Coffman: vocals, guitar
Angel Deradoorian: vocals, keyboard, samples, guitar, bass
Brian McOmber: drums
Nat Baldwin: bass
Haley Dekle: voice
Jordan Dykstra: viola
Caleb Russell: violin
Andrew Todd: violin
Anna Fritz: cello

Summer soundtracks come from unexpected places. I recall bonding with Talking Heads 77 while lying on a hardwood floor on a hot summer in Portland, Oregon. The sophisticated simplicity of a "Psycho Killer" and "Don't Worry About the Government" creating their own wrinkles in my brain with their infectious, guilt free listening. A sound that is immediately appealing that does not wear out after periods of addictive listening. Bitte Orca is that kind of record. Vocal centric writing that threads a line through infectious, addictive territory while retaining an aggressively sophisticated edge in the unexpected turns of form and development. A polished, produced recording that doesn't feel the weight of over-production serving up a set of songs that immediately appeal to the ears while darting out at odd angles away from traditional song form. Generous portions of drum-free textures contrasting against satisfying, full ensemble material. And the voices alternate between male and female while moving in and out of the focal point of the overall sound. This is a wonderful record.

Iannis Xenakis: Works for Large Orchestra - Volume II. 2001. Timpani: 1C1062.

Jonchaies (1977)
Shaar (1983)
Lichens (1983)
Antikhthon (1971)

Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg
Arturo Tamaho: conductor

Jonchaies is written for 109 musicians. And the din Xenakis rips out of all that humanity is thoroughly unholy and relentless. What a fantastic work! Orchestral music that begs to be played loud to feel the relentless pummeling of percussion, brass, piercing piccolos and strings. Major props to the Orchetre Philharmonique du Luxembourg for performing this music with an aggressive bite not normally associated with genteel orchestras.

Orchestral masses and forces set in motion characterize all the works on this disc. Shaar pours Xenakis's unique language into a large string orchestra while Lichens and Antikhthon add plenty of percussion, brass and winds to the massive ensemble load. Music that thrives under the baton of Arturo Tamaho as the assaultive, unapologetically dissonant textures burn with a heat more often reserved for wicked feedback solos. Recordings like this make the best argument for modernist aesthetic of the previous century.

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