Wednesday 6 January 2010

Trumpets, Noisy Pulsations, Advanced Pop And A Wonderfully Unclassifiable Fricassee

AMY HORVEY – Interview

A young virtuoso of the trumpet (she was born in 1980) who has worked with Pierre Boulez among others, Horvey presents works from different composers, of which only Giacinto Scelsi I’m familiar with. The latter’s “Quattro Pezzi Per Tromba Sola” are the best introduction to the artist’s outstandingly eminent know-how, her timbre a thing of beauty – control and restraint mixed with eloquent intensity. After this fine start, the program swiftly tends to an area of music which is experimental but not in a really innovatory way, thus hindering a little our full appreciation of the protagonist’s irrefutable qualities. Two pieces – Anna Höstmann’s “Interview”, dedicated to pioneer trumpeter Edna White, and Ryan Purchase’s “Apparatus Inconcinnus” make use of spoken fragments amidst the instrumental lines; the final “Overture To The Queen Of The Music Boxes” is an interesting parallelism between Horvey delivering a klezmer melody against Jeff Morton’s small mechanical universe made of toy boxes, toy instruments and electronics. Cecilia Arditto’s “Musica Invisibile” is instead almost entirely forgettable: a dusty, old-sounding piece that manages to render even the employment of extended techniques uninteresting, if not annoying. With a better repertoire, Amy Horvey will definitely shine. (Malasartes)

BASELINE – Estado Liquido

This was sent in 2008, one of the many items to which this reviewer arrives with indefensible delay. Basically we’re dealing with low-frequency pulse music, sometimes on the droning side, otherwise rhythmically defined by some kind of “recurrence” (including a heartbeat - I believed that Pink Floyd were the last to use it, in 1973’s The Dark Side Of The Moon. Hey, just kidding). The record grows rather nicely on the listener – especially in the first half – and can definitely be digested without excessive remorse. Then again, it’s not something that made me raise the head and stop breathing, if you get my point. Had the “regular” rhythms been left out - thus avoiding a sense of ordinariness typical of certain cheap pseudo-industrial entities, to which Baseline don’t seem to belong – and the throbbing resonances developed in a deeper way, this would have amounted to an almost excellent release. It still works, but only in spurts. Too bad. (RMO)


Producer Lawrence English has, once again, done a great job with this group, always an extremely pleasurable listen in their brand of refined pop slightly contaminated by mildly noncompliant arrangements. This EP – nineteen minutes total – is all the more laudable, for several reasons (including the duration!). The short tracks are fused together, following one another in a single flux like in a concept album; the straightforwardness of the compositions is enhanced by willowish sonic combinations that valorise the instrumental nuances (especially the guitars, whose timbral range spans from fuzzy layers of creamy meta-Frippery to cleaner arpeggios generating suggestive reverberations). English’s hand does the rest, the sum of his individual types of harmonic halos and slender resonances an added value. Music that might remain circumscribed to a certain kind of audience, but nevertheless can be frequently enjoyed also by an investigative listener like yours truly. (Someone Good)

PERFECT VACUUM – A Guide To The Music Of The 21st Century

This writer considers himself lucky when receiving obscure releases containing excellent works by many friends all over the world, and hopefully Lukas Simonis will forgive me if I dare to enclose him in the “friend” category, given that we never met personally (sure enough, this kind of relationship is much truer than counting on Facebook or MySpace’s “friends”. Incidentally, anyone noticed yet that Facebook is your way to being snowed under an avalanche of spam? End of parenthesis). The music of the 21st century – if you respect Simonis and Dave Marsh’s view – is still something to embrace very warmly. This 13-song cycle is absolutely exquisite, to the point that calling these little jewels “songs” doesn’t do a favour to their quality. They’re flawlessly trimmed but, at the same time, radically altered, definitely including large doses of improvised melange. Easy melodies get intertwined with dissonant crisscross, deviated New Orleans-style arrangements meshed with Beatles-derived acoustic simplicities, gentle choirs and fiendish rasps swapped according to the necessity of a particular section. The seaming of the different parts – because a single three-minute piece can contain up to a dozen of them – is so well executed that one would be almost justified in thinking “Zappa” during the quirky itineraries of selected fragments. A series of infringements of compositional rules that, absurdly, generate a music obeying to other imperatives: those of quick-minded entertainment informed by unadulterated musicianship. Rare commodities in today’s stereotyped “art”. Honourable mention to the extraordinary players who flank the main characters: Nina Hitz, Noortje Köhne, Colin McClure, Trend Watkiss, Ingeborg Muller, Nazmiya Ibrahim, Pascal Tabarnac. Keep’em coming, Lukas. (Acid Soxx)