Thursday, August 19, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: When The Spirit Catches You

Relache: Press Play. 2006. Meyer Media: MM06004.

Bob Butryn: clarinets, saxophones
Andrea Clearfield: piano, keyboards
Ruth Frazier: viola
Jon Gaarder: bassoons
Christopher Hanning: percussion
Michele Kelly: flutes
Douglas Mapp: contrabass, electric bass
Lloyd Shorter: oboe, english horn

High Octane by Mark Hagerty
Tangocide by Guy Klucevsek
Still Life With Canon by Guy Klucevsek
Swither by Guy Klucevsek
Wing/Prayer by Guy Klucevsek
When the Spirit Catches You... by Cynthia Folio

The program notes for High Octane describe a creative act interrupted by the events of 9/11. The mood of that work shifting to something much darker than its pulsating and light opening. Wing/Prayer is Guy Klucevsek's creative response to the collective experience of 9/11. The doubts about one's own voice and significance as an artist in the wake of shared tragedy followed by defiance. A sense of defiance is what both Mark Hagerty and Klucevsek converge upon in their response as thinking, feeling humans. Cynthia Folio's When the Spirit Catches You... taps into a similar defiance with a deeply personal work about her daughter's struggle with epileptic seizures. Taken as a whole, Press Play captures an expression of human warmth and movement in the face of debilitating tragedy. A sense and need for dance that prevails above and beyond schedule. The production values are amazing on this disc as well. Chamber music recorded with so much clarity that one almost feels like a member of the ensemble.

Iannis Xenakis: Orchestral Works - Vol. III. 2002. Timpani Records: 1C1068.

Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg
Arturo Tamayo: conductor

Synaphai for piano and orchestra (1969)
Hiroaki Ooi: piano

Horos (1986)

Eridanos (1972)

Kyania (1990)

If the music of Iannis Xenakis did not exist it would have to be invented. There is such an inevitability to the sonic masses that he coaxed from large orchestral forces. Rendering in sound the inevitable forces of enzymes breaking down proteins, tectonic plates displacing mountains or the pock marked lunar surface that speak toward a scale of perception that exists well beyond human lifespans. And often inspiring the same awe in phenomena that exist with complete indifference to our own observation and understanding. Synaphai pits a field of stochastic energy fields against one another with the piano holding its own against the orchestra. Exquisitely dissonant and ugly music that enthralls.

Dave Douglas/Keystone: Moonshine. 2007. Greenleaf: GRE-06.

Dave Douglas: trumpet
Marcus Strickland: saxophone
Adam Benjamin: fender rhodes
Brad Jones: ampeg baby bass
Gene Lake: drums
DJ Olive: turntables and laptop

The connection between the music of Keystone and the silent films of Fatty Arbuckle takes on a new clarity with this disc. It's not just the films driving the formal construction of this music (a form that remains unseen in this format) or that these are updated soundtracks for old footage. In reality, I've had trouble reconciling the experience of viewing and hearing these at the same time. It's not that these work - or even need be regarded - as soundtracks. This is Dave Douglas taking a thoroughly modern, electric sound that draws upon the visuals and atmospheres of a particular strain of film making. The humor of Arbuckle finding a voice in this music as it careens wildly without ever becoming completely unhinged. This band is exactly what one would expect given the incredible musicianship assembled for this studio realization of music born from live experimentation. It grooves hard while still dealing out arrangements and melodic forms equal to the timbral ferocity of this material.

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