Wednesday, September 14, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: From Blasphemy to Saturn to Minnimalism

Yoshie Fruchter's Pitom: Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes. 2011. Tzadik: 8158.

Yoshie Fruchter: guitarLinkJeremy Brown: violin, viola
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: bass
Kevin Zubek: drums

Chances are you won't realize how starved your ears are for klezmer metal before putting on a dose of Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes. An alliance that is truly unholy. A hybrid that plies equal respect to the metal and the klezmer without sacrificing the irreverence that animates this set. There's nothing flashy or kitsch about Pitom's approach to this music as they ply more than enough musical chops to pull this material off. Soaring violin solos over a driving beat never sounded more natural. The only question is where does one turn once Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes exposes one's addiction to this klez-core? The ears eagerly await more from this band as they develop this rich sound.

Ephraim Asili: Points On A Space Age - Starring The Sun Ra Arkestra. [DVD] 2009. MVD Visual: MDVV4774.

A glimpse into an optimistic tomorrow that continues to reverberate even as the future rushes forward with indifference. Cut together with NASA footage, the Marshall Allen incarnation of the Arkestra as it exists in this day, President John F. Kennedy's soaring speech about the dawning space age, the poetry of Sun Ra as read by Ephriaim Asili and interviews with members of the present day Arkestra. The physical absence of Sun Ra sets the tone for this short presentation. The love of his music and vision by those who carry forward with the realization that he (and they) may never receive their due before their final chapter is written. The devotion is other worldly. The gentle persistence of this art should be enough in a perfect world. But this world was never enough for those who know the ways of Saturn. Just as the Presidential vision of space travel "to the ends of this solar system and beyond" recedes into a more distant place. This is a music that calls for an idealism that breaks our own petty borders and terrestrial concerns.

Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians. 2007. Innova: 678.

Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble
Bill Ryan: director
Gwendolyn Faasen, Stacey Van Vossen, Mary Crossman: voices
Amanda Duncan: voice, marimba
Alexander Hamel: xylophone, marimba, maracas
Samuel Gould: xylophone
Nicholas Usadel, Tim Church: marimbas
Joshua Puranen: marimba, maracas
Gregrey Secor: vibraphone
Daniel Redner: pian, maracas
Craig Avery: piano, marimba
Shaun MacDonald, Kelly Rizzo, Kurt Ellenberger, Lee Copenhaver: piano
Mark Martin: violin
Pablo Mahave-Veglia: cello
Charlen Meuller, Alexander Kolias: clarinet, bass clarinet

Music for 18 Musicians has become a canonical work in that aficionados now have multiple recordings of different performances to obsess about in the same way Mahler fans can pick apart and debate the various recordings of his symphonic works. Sonically it makes sense that Music for 18 Musicians would soar toward a such a status with the way it singularly defined and propelled much of Steve Reich's instrumental music writing that followed. One would be hard pressed to do better than the spirited and faithful rendering from the Grand Valley State University as it is beautifully recorded on this release. It's an ensemble work that weaves together an attractive tapestry from individual threads that rarely puncture the foreground as individual players. Over the past year I have heard this piece performed live twice and anticipate a bright future with stages full of pianos and marimbas as further generations of performers discover this amazing work.

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