Sunday, November 20, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: Heady and Nostalgic

Elliott Sharp: In the Land of the Yahoos. 1987. Zoar/SST Records: 128.

Elliott Sharp: mirage, voice, bass, pantar, guitar, saxophone, drum computer
Chirstoph Anders: voice, mirage
David Fulton: electronic drums
Paul Garrin: pat, rewinds
Christian Marclay: turntables
Jane Tomkiewicz: bender, clay drum

If there's a part of me that is capable of nostalgia, this is one of the discs it reaches for. I've lived with this music for a long time and it continues to be repulsive in all the right ways. Short, detail-rich studio creations that often include deliciously uncomfortable vocals in a music that targets its commentary on televangelists, consumerism and the shallowest depths of American society with blistering criticism. A theme that would be picked up with even greater effectiveness in two "sequel" albums. But for these ears, the sneering voice of the title track at the onset of this listening experience is where it all begins. One of many under appreciated gems in the prolific and thorny catalog of Elliott Sharp.

Terry Riley: piano in 5-limit Just Intonation in C#

This one is another nod toward nostalgia and a substantial piano composition that has supplied a soundtrack for much of my life. Harmony plays a starring role in this music as the startling diversity of intervals within a justly tuned diatonicism reveals a depth of tonality that isn't nearly as audible in equal temperament. Then there is the composition and generous helpings of Terry Riley's under-credited ability for improvisation. Terry Riley plays the role of story teller and shaman as he unfolds an elaborate narrative through abstraction. All of which comes together into a long-form solo work with incredible beauty for those who pause long enough to drink it in.

Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone
Mary Halvorson: guitar
Ches Smith: drums

Saturn Sings is an ideal collision of so many worlds. Thorny, unpredictable compositions rendered audible by the aggressively creative spirits of these five musicians. Realizing a music that plumbs the extremes of order and chaos by filling up the sonic texture with a density that leaves plenty of room for individual navigation. Mary Halvorson has cut her teeth under the tutelage of Anthony Braxton and absorbed many of his best approaches toward improvisation and composition along the way. But this music also taps into a completely different energy that is entirely hers. There's a fiercely independent quality to this sound that allows one to hear deep into the heads of these players while also admiring the tight structure of these charts. All of this adds up to one impressive recording that stubbornly grabs at one's consciousness and dares it to follow the twists and turns of this logical and free music. Ches Smith is a real presence on the drum kit on this one as well. Highly recommended. Savor this.

No comments: