Album review: Buzz Osborne, 'This Machine Kills Artists'
July 8, 2014
Album review: Buzz Osborne, 'This Machine Kills Artists'
July 8, 2014
When it comes to the Yes shows I've caught since I first started attending in 2004 (late start, I know), as well as those I've heard via various audience-sourced recordings floating around on the Interwebs, there's a simple, fairly reliable rule of thumb: As goes "Siberian Khatru," so goes the band. When that staple from the 1972 LP Close to the Edge runs well, it's generally a sign that the band is locked in and prepared to deliver a solid show. When it's anemic, the concert often reflects that state. When I reviewed Yes at the Beacon Theatre for The New York Times last year, I called the song "generally a reliable barometer of Yes’s health," and noted that it "sounded rock solid if not particularly urgent."
Theirs is no disgrace in my saying that tonight's show-opening performance at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion was much along the same lines: not the fiery sort of rendition Yes might have produced in the '70s, or even the stately beast of the late '90s, but the kind of solid, all-pistons-firing rendition that has signaled a characteristically strong show during the band's latter-day stretch from 2004 onward – and especially in its post-Jon Anderson, post-Rick Wakeman period from 2008 to now.
It wasn't flawless – Geoff Downes doesn't handle the fiddly harpsichord-patch curlicue bit with the authority that Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz or Igor Khoroshev did, but he's usually a match for his very good immediate predecessor, Oliver Wakeman (son of Rick). Still, the rendition augured well for this date, the third in Yes's current American tour and the second to feature a complete set list (the first, at Tioga Downs Racino in Nichols, NY, was a truncated casino set).
The hook for this year's tour is that the setlist features two classic albums in their entirety, Fragile and Close to the Edge. That the latter album would sound secure was to be expected; Close to the Edge was also played alongside The Yes Album and Going for the One on last year's three-album tour. The main difference this time is that the band is playing it back-to-front, starting with "Siberian Khatru" and proceeding through "And You and I" to end with the title suite. That "And You and I" went well almost goes without saying; this is one of those anthemic pieces that stands out during any set it turns up in. But last year at the Beacon – and on several earlier occasions – "Close to the Edge" wasn't quite the magnificent assemblage it should be.
Here, it was – in my ongoing Twitter commentary, I ventured to say it was the best "Close to the Edge" I'd heard since 2004, and unless an audience recording proves that my ears were on vacation, I'm sticking to that story. It's as if playing the album in reverse provided sufficient warm-up time for the band (and its engineers) to allow for a performance that actually built on the strength of "And You and I," rather than the reverse.
In Albany on Sunday night, Yes followed Close to the Edge with two songs from their forthcoming new album, Heaven & Earth, a respectable addition to the canon, and one that I expect many fans will deem slight. (You don't have to search hard to find "fan" reviews of unwarranted brutality already.) I was intrigued that the band selected "To Ascend" and "The Game" instead of the well-promoted first single, "Believe Again."
Here, the single is what the band delivered, mostly to strong effect. And oddly, it was guitarist Steve Howe, a musician capable of buoying a dullish Yes show singlehandedly through skill and determination, who sounded out of sorts in his twangy exposed runs late in the song. The notes were there; they just didn't all fall where they were supposed to with Howe's characteristic precision.
Then, onward into Fragile – which, as I mentioned in my Boston Globe interview with Howe, is an odder choice than it seems. Yes, it's the source of longtime set staples like "South Side of the Sky," "Long Distance Runaround," "Heart of the Sunrise" and the obligatory "Roundabout," plus the durable Chris Squire set piece "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)." All those pieces were present and accounted for; all came across with the authority that "Close to the Edge" had, save for a narrowly averted timing breakdown between Downes and drummer Alan White late in "South Side of the Sky."
But the rest of Fragile is devoted to tracks centered around a single member of Yes, and three members of the band that made the album are no longer present. Even counting "The Fish" and Howe's "Mood for a Day" as no-brainers, how the balance would go down is this tour's biggest risk.
On balance, the challenge was well met. Downes not only faithfully played "Cans and Brahms," Rick Wakeman's puffy romp through the Allegro giacoso movement of Johannes Brahms's Symphony No. 4, but managed to make it sound fresh with his voicings and phrasings. Singer Jon Davison likewise paid due tribute to original singer Jon Anderson with his respectful, animated rendering of "We Have Heaven." As for "Five Per Cent for Nothing" – well, all respect to White, whose supple fusion chops were documented on vintage LPs like Relayer and Tormato, but this version of Bill Bruford's compact, hiccuping jazzbo lark was all hiccup, little jazz and no lark. The tune amounted to a contractual obligation, dispatched and dispensed with.
After a heroic "Heart of the Sunrise" came the show's oddest turn: Yes sang the a cappella intro to "I've Seen All Good People," but instead of easing into the song's stately opening ballad, "Your Move," the band plunged straight into the rollicking "All Good People" portion of the song. Time efficient it might have been; satisfying it wasn't. That odd choice was compounded by the first song in the encore: "Owner of a Lonely Heart," the sole representation of the band's "YesWest" era with guitarist Trevor Rabin, and a cut that Howe long eschewed.
Me, I'd have traded it in a heartbeat for a complete "I've Seen All Good People." But the audience response was suitably ebullient, and here even Howe seemed swept up in it, following a surprisingly Rabinesque intial solo with a longer chaser all his own. Predictably – and would we have it any other way? – the encore closed with "Starship Trooper," with Squire on stomping form in "Wurm" and Downes strapping on a keytar for the final flurry of traded solos.
Throughout, as in previous encounters, the newly scruffy Davison was a marvel. Many a Yes fan seems all too willing to write off the present-day band entirely because of Anderson's absence, and perhaps that's to be expected. But Davison does more than just sing Anderson's notes accurately; he shares the ethereal spirit and affirmative warmth that Anderson brought to the band, a far rarer commodity, while bringing a youthful vigor to a band that could easily be going through the motions by now.
Heaven & Earth, an album to which Davison contributed mightily, won't likely change the minds of those who've already decided to abandon ship. But with its concise songs and detailed arrangements, it proves that there's new gas in the old battleship's tank now. What happens from here should be well worth watching.
Syd Arthur, a young English quartet that puts a fresh spin on Canterbury psych-prog, played a brief but terrific 30-minute opening set, mostly consisting of material from the recently released LP Sound Mirror. Afterward, I happily purchased a copy of the album – on vinyl, yup! – and got the band members to sign it at the merch booth. Anyone headed out to see the current Yes tour is hereby advised to turn up punctually, and pay attention. A nice article from the New York Daily News tells you what you ought to know about the group.
Setlist and more photos after the jump.
"Yes forges ahead with classic albums and new music"
The Boston Globe, July 7, 2014
My second Boston Globe byline, and a treat I couldn't resist giving myself, having seen Yes five times since 2004 – the last tour to date with vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, and a most memorable night with great companionship at Jones Beach in Wantagh, NY.
The 2008 tour with Anderson's intial replacement, Benôit David, was hugely encouraging (and seen in the same fine company in Westbury, NY); the second, a Jones Beach double bill with Styx, was problematic and deflating (but seen in great company again). The first tour with current singer Jon Davison, for which I trekked out to Englewood, NJ, all alone, was positively inspiring; you can read my New York Times report about the Beacon Theatre stop on last year's three-album tour – The Yes Album, Close to the Edge and Going for the One, all complete – right here. (And again, excellent company.)
Guitarist Steve Howe was generous with his time on the phone, and the Globe was generous with space; even "condensed and edited," this interview, plus my introduction, run to more than 1,400 words. A fair amount of material left on the cutting-room floor would have been catnip for fans but reasonably meaningless to non-devotees; in time, perhaps, I'll post some of it here.
Weather and workday willing, I'm planning to see Yes a sixth time on Tuesday night (July 8) at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. The set list, to judge by what the band played on Sunday night in Albany, NY, will include Fragile and Close to the Edge in their entirety, plus a few selections from the forthcoming album Heaven & Earth ("To Ascend" and "The Game," though not the lead-off single, "Believe Again")and a few other odds and ends. Obligatory: "I've Seen All Good People" and "Starship Trooper"; unexpected but also included: "Owner of a Lonely Heart."
[I intended to post this here on Monday, but the DDoS hacker attack on Typepad put paid to that notion, so I posted this on Facebook. Here it is, in case you missed it before now.—Steve]
A new baby…a new work status…and now, a new job. What started with a simple email I received a few weeks ago has transformed with head-spinning speed into an opportunity I never saw coming, and obviously could not refuse.
On Monday, May 19, I report to work as the new Assistant Arts Editor of the Boston Globe.
My territory covers music – classical, popular and all shades in between – as well as visual art, for which I've had an intense lifelong passion. My new boss is Rebecca Ostriker. My remarkable colleagues will include Jeremy Eichler — just one of whose large shoes I stepped into at The New York Times in 2006 — as well as Matthew Guerrieri, David Weininger, James Reed, Sarah Rodman, Jon Garelick, Geoff A. Edgers and Sebastian Smee. To what extent I'll be writing remains to be seen in the short term, but anyone who knows me also knows that I can't clam up for long.
Lara and I have begun our hunt for a new domicile; I'm a bit stuck on Jamaica Plain, but we're certainly open to suggestion. I intend to be settled somewhere by Friday, May 16, with Lara, Annina, Bruno and Lola joining me as soon as feasible if not immediately.
Understand, my NYC friends, neighbors, comrades and colleagues, that I never envisioned leaving the city I've come to call home over the past 20 years. I hope you'll come up the highway to visit me from time to time, and I promise at some point to do the same. I also hope that we can see as many of you as we can during the next few weeks.
Farewell but not goodbye, New York City. And hey, Boston: let's dance.
Colin Stetson with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus at Merkin Concert Hall, March 22, 2014
The New York Times, March 25, 2014
This one came out really, really quickly, despite some hair-splitting fact-checking that ran up to deadline hour. Once I had that lede – don't ask me where it came from; I just accepted its arrival – the rest of the review just fell into place as it needed to.
Given conversations going on among many of my more music-literate friends following Ted Gioia's recent Daily Beast article about music criticism degenerating into lifestyle reporting, arguably I could have spoken more exactly and in greater detail about the structural makings of Stetson's songs, especially as regards the choral component. But when you're faced with a tight word count, a looming deadline and a general audience, those aren't always the first things that occur to you. Should they be? That's worth thinking about. (If the notion is resonant for you, DO NOT miss this Owen Pallett analysis of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" on Slate.)
I do hope that Stetson will complete his wondrous arrangement of Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, and his colleagues from this concert's second half will commit the whole thing to disc. I could very easily imagine it being something that would really work on the Constellation label, for which Stetson already records – the arrangement is faithful to Gorecki, yet for me it also had an unmistakeable whiff of postrock à la Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky or Mono.
John Zorn: Masada Book 3 at the Town Hall, March 19, 2014
The New York Times, March 21, 2014
The biggest surprise about this particular concert was the fact that I was there; I'd originally been scheduled to cover a different event, but a sick colleague prompted a last-minute shuffle, and here we are. Because of a last-minute space crunch, a few things were excised from the review without my knowledge. I reckon that at least a few people might be interested in the bits that were lost.
First, the paragraph about Masada numerology originally ended with an interesting announcement.
The reason? 215 plus 306 plus 92 equals 613, the number of commandments that Jews are obliged to observe, according to the Torah. A 614th commandment introduced after World War II, he added, will prompt a final, long-form Masada composition that he intends to write next year.
Keen-eyed Zornithologists will note that the first two numbers are actually 205 plus 316, a point we quickly corrected. My original draft as submitted and edited also identified the trio of Steve Lehman, Vijay Iyer and Tyshawn Sorey by their collective name, Fieldwork.
Finally, lost entirely in the cut was my final paragraph. While there's no way that I could have cited all the worthy performers who participated in Zorn's shuffle-concert, I did in fact name more than saw print. These things happen all the time, and no hard feelings – but for those who might be curious, here's the original ending.
Many Arms, a Philadelphia trio, read “Panim” in a manner that recalled the Nels Cline Trio in its punk-jazz-vinyl salad days. The guitarist Gyan Riley and the art-rock band Secret Chiefs 3 wrested adrenalized fusion from their respective selections. The singer Sofia Rei brought out a throaty romantic sway in “Setumah.” And Zion80, a joyous ensemble that usually patches Shlomo Carlebach’s songs into Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat template, found “Hod” amenable to its positively Zornian hybrid approach.
A week of big orchestral concerts ahead for coverage in The New York Times, and, as ever, plenty that I'd like to see were sleeplessness (well, additional sleeplessness) or cloning available options.
Wednesday, March 12: New York Philharmonic
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center; 7:30pm; $39–$59
Alan Gilbert and the Phil continue the outstanding cycle of Carl Nielsen's orchestral music undertaken in collaboration with the Danish record label Dacapo, which has already produced a dynamic CD of the Symphonies Nos. 2 ("Sinfonia espansiva") and 3 ("The Four Temperaments"). This week's program includes the Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 (no nicknames) and Helios Overture, and it repeats on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Vienna Philharmonic returns to Carnegie for two more concerts under the Vienna: City of Dreams festival banner. On Saturday, Christoph Eschenbach fills in for an injured Daniele Gatti, conducting Schubert's Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished") and Mahler's Symphony No. 4, the latter with Juliane Banse as soloist. And on Sunday, Zubin Mehta steers a celebration of all things Viennese, from waltzes to Webern with a juicy centerpiece in Korngold's Violin Concerto (featuring Gil Shaham). Diana Damrau and the New York Choral Artists are also pitching in.
Elsewhere and -when
Monday, March 10: Jay Campbell plays David Fulmer, Simon Steen-Andersen, Matthias Pintscher and more at Weill Recital Hall (more)
Monday, March 10: Benjamin Hochman plays Luciano Berio, Oliver Knussen, Frederic Rzewski and Tamar Muskal at SubCulture (more)
Tuesday, March 11: Aventa Ensemble plays Rolf Wallin and Michael Osterle for Ear Heart Music at Roulette (more)
Wednesday, March 12: Imperial Topaz and Hex Breaker Quartet at Death by Audio (more)
Wednesday, March 12, and Thursday, March 13: Elliott Sharp's SysOrk at Roulette (more)
Thursday, March 13: Bang on a Can Peoples' Commissioning Fund concert at Merkin Concert Hall (more)
Thursday, March 13: Ensemble Signal plays Unsuk Chin at Miller Theatre (more)
Thursday, March 13: Rachel Golub and Nick Didkovsky at Spectrum (more)
Friday, March 14: David Del Tredici and Marc Peloquin play Del Tredici at Bargemusic (more)
Sunday, March 16: counter)induction plays Salvatore Sciarrino, Robert Suderburg, Ryan Streber, Douglas Boyce and Kyle Bartlett at Greenwich House Music School (more)
Sunday, March 16: String Noise and Friends at the Firehouse Space (more)
I've promised myself for quite some time now that I'd finally get around to catching up with posting my writing for the Times here with a couple of omnibus posts, and now I'm finally making the time for it. Here's the first, covering everything between the two most recent reviews I've posted individually here – Jon Gillock's March recital and the Bard Music Festival in August – and notably including my first two non-classical music reviews for the paper, Yes and Steven Wilson.
Although I'd prefer to post my Times work in a timely manner, I'll admit that seeing so many weeks' worth of reviews all crammed together does give an unusually good representation of the range of things I'm called upon to cover. And in case it matters, the reason the Nate Wooley review of June 11 is listed here before the Girma Yifrashewa review of June 10 is because Wooley's concert actually preceded Yifrashewa's (June 6 and 8, respectively).
Another post bringing all things Times completely up to date will follow, hopefully very soon.
"The Reformed Drunkard" at the 59E59 Theaters
March 23, 2013
"Given everything this production had in its favor, the one lamentable aspect was a translation that eschewed poetry in favor of literalness."
"Faust" at the Metropolitan Opera
March 25, 2013
"You can’t blame the originator of the current production, the Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff, for trying to impose nuance, depth and relevance where the composer and his collaborators provided none."
Jeremy Denk at Carnegie Hall
March 26, 2013
"Again, colossal interpretations conveyed the sense of composers grappling with the ineffable, inventing new vocabulary to express the inexpressible."
Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
April 6, 2013
"…like the New York Philharmonic playing Bernstein’s music, the Boston Symphony inhabits Bartók’s concerto like no other ensemble."
Alarm Will Sound at Zankel Hall
April 9, 2013
"Mr. Pierson and his musicians played with an exactness and verve that might inspire any composer to dream big."
Yes at the Beacon Theatre
April 11, 2013
"…few bands of Yes’s stature control their own destinies entirely; fan expectations and fiscal necessities exert unobserved pressures."
"Sunken Garden" at the Barbican Center
April 17, 2013
"Dig beneath its modern trappings and eye-popping 3-D film effects, though, and you find a remarkably conventional core… 'Sunken Garden' is positively old-fashioned in its idiosyncratic depiction of a flawed hero seeking to rescue a fair maiden imprisoned in a fairy-tale land by a mysterious sorceress."
"Through it all, Mr. Volkov was tireless and omnipresent, not only conducting and performing, but also giving informal chats, moving furniture and directing traffic."
"An elaborate adaptation of Walt Whitman’s 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,' the piece is Ms. Higdon’s most trenchant work and among her loveliest, qualities undiminished in this skillful reduction."
New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall
April 26, 2013
"Fervently dedicated to Wagner, the symphony is awash in echoes of 'Die Walküre,' 'Tristan und Isolde' and 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg' — though Bruckner somehow converts all hints of eros into further worshipfulness."
Steven Wilson at the Best Buy Theater
April 29, 2013
"Like a child conducting his bedroom stereo, Mr. Wilson careered around the stage barefoot, flapping his hands to marshal Mr. Travis’s airy flute and saxophone lines, Mr. Guthrie’s aqueous solos, Mr. Holzman’s shimmering embellishments, and machine-gun bursts from Mr. Beggs and Mr. Minnemann."
"Any disappointment in missing Stravinsky’s pellucid orchestral writing was mitigated by the sparkle of the pianists, Pedja Muzijevic and Steven Beck, and in the brilliant singing of the choir…"
American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
May 4, 2013
"Time has shown that no subject or context is too complex or provocative for the conductor Leon Botstein to investigate in his programming for the American Symphony Orchestra, nor any topic so clear-cut that he will not muddy the waters by incorporating elements likely to prove provocative."
"HPSCHD" at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center
May 6, 2013
"During the second hour, heeding a cue from Richard Kostelanetz’s review of the premiere for The New York Times, I lay on the floor near a concealed loudspeaker and closed my eyes, drifting with the din. (Arising 30 minutes later, I read on Twitter that I had been spotted napping on the job.)"
Maurizio Pollini at Carnegie Hall
May 9, 2013
"For any pianist who has been performing as long and as well as he has, minor blemishes are practically inevitable and easily dismissed. Perhaps that forgiveness is extended less readily to Mr. Pollini, since so much of his stature is based on flawless precision and its revelatory effects."
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
May 10, 2013
"The auditorium rang with whoops and shouts as the orchestra took the stage, audience members twirling green banners that matched the ties and sashes the musicians wore."
"The storm, which flooded Ms. Anderson’s Lower Manhattan basement, looms from the start of the piece. It arrives near the end, when she describes seeing old keyboards and stage props floating, ruined."
"Even without sets, props or magic aural box, 'Fama' amounted to intensely potent theater, at times taking on positively hallucinatory effect as you strained to discern what instrument might conceivably be producing this unfamiliar sound or that oblique effect."
Tertulia at Harding's
May 21, 2013
"The concert program included approachable, insightful notes, as well as succinct tips in basic concert etiquette. Notably, the idea of proper and improper times for applause was dispensed with."
"Despite what prime-time television has conditioned us to expect, not every season-ending program has to conclude with oversize special effects and unanticipated twists."
Cantata Profana at Roulette
May 25, 2013
"Backed by a restless soundscape of twisted early-music parodies (Handel and Haydn most clearly), nervous chatters and birdlike twitters, Mr. Ward stalked the stage in a robe and pajamas, expertly booming and screeching through the work’s disjointed reminiscences."
Either/Or Spring Festival at the Kitchen
June 3, 2013
"I like program notes and artist biographies, and will take any opportunity I’m offered to look at the score of a new piece — usually a matter of taking an initiative I admittedly don’t always get around to."
Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall
June 4, 2013
"A magical moment arrives in every concert I have seen involving the conductor Nicholas McGegan, and it comes before any music has been made."
Lang Lang and Friends at Carnegie Hall
June 5, 2013
"Say what you will about Mr. Lang’s piano playing — in the past I have found him elegant, hyperbolic, generous and gaudy, often in the space of a single performance — but his instinct to extend the benefits of his fame to others is entirely laudable."
"You could practically see rays of sunlight breaking through banks of clouds as Mr. Wooley, trumpet pointed heavenward, reached the summit of his mountain once again."
Girma Yifrashewa at Issue Project Room
June 10, 2013
"'Classical music is music without Africa,' Brian Eno bluntly declared in a 1995 interview published in Wired magazine. 'It represents old-fashioned hierarchical structures, ranking, all the levels of control,' he said. An art-rock provocateur, Mr. Eno managed to patronize two cultures in a single blow…"
"Making new music is hard work, both for the composer confronted with a blank page (or screen) and for the performer, who is usually faced with limited time to hone an unfamiliar piece before offering it to the public."
"Blue Monday" at the Cotton Club
June 20, 2013
"Just after 8 p.m., a new pianist discreetly slipped into the band. A string quartet suddenly materialized. Without warning, an opera broke out…"
New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall
June 22, 2013
"The work’s infernal mechanics, pensive meditations and juggernaut intensity are familiar turf. But the symphony also has a pinch of new swagger, and a bluesy grit that recalls Bernstein’s 'On the Waterfront' music."
"The piano-wire litany, played through loudspeakers, engulfed an audience seated under the resonant archway, and drew in curious passers-by."
John Zorn's "Sacred Voices" at the Guggenheim Museum
June 25, 2013
"…moments of convergence — a passage of blanched harmony in 'Earthspirit' set against pale, white hues; 'The Devil’s Walk' (from 'Madrigals') awash in lurid reds; sudden dusk at the concert’s end — felt like more than synchronicity."
Eyvind Kang at the Stone
July 4, 2013
"Amplified instruments gave Ms. Darboven’s stark Minimalist patterns an industrial edge; factor in the evening’s stifling heat, and the experience took on a hallucinatory intensity."
Original Music Workshop "The Violin" at Federal Hall
July 11, 2013
"Paola Prestini is probably best known as a composer, but her business card might more accurately read 'human resources alchemist,' such is her gift for bringing together disparate artists, technicians and other creative professionals to produce cross-disciplinary works greater than the sum of their parts."
"Now, just over five years after his death — and with an acclaimed staging of 'Michaels Reise um die Erde' ('Michael’s Journey Around the World'), the second act of the opera 'Donnerstag aus Licht' ('Thursday From Light'), opening at the Lincoln Center Festival on Thursday — Stockhausen appears to have assumed his least-likely status of all: surefire box-office hit."
Rite of Summer Music Festival on Governors Island
July 15, 2013
"As Ashley Bathgate played and passers-by gawked, the rumble of air traffic overhead complemented her instrument’s groans."
"…even measured by the high standard this annual affair has sustained, this year’s festival — which runs through Aug. 24 here — rises to new levels of innovation, curiosity and, yes, chutzpah. Make no mistake, that’s meant as praise."
"I can’t recall a more gripping performance of 'La Cathédrale Engloutie' ('The Submerged Cathedral'), the high point of an account both exacting and spontaneous."
"Oresteia" at Bard College
July 30, 2013
"…if fleeting patches of shaky ensemble attested to the unfamiliarity of this noble enterprise, Mr. Botstein nonetheless drew a handsome performance…"
"'I’m interested in a modern theatrical language, but only in a complete harmony with the music making. And so I recognized that it’s best if I do it myself.'"
Keith Fullerton Whitman, electronic-music maven and proprietor of the early-electronica archival label Creel Pone and the brilliant avant-music e-tailer Mimaroglu Music Service, makes everyone's morning with a new, very personal project uploaded to Soundcloud this morning. Here, in his own words, the explanation of Greatest Hits:
On the eve of my 30th birthday, I began rendering "automatic" "enhancements" of only the most salient points of the pop music of my youth; a line, bar, or fragment of a particular song (after being heard out in "the wild" in the present; akin to running into an old friend on the street & having that awkward, stilted conversation) was chosen based on how much my nostalgic recollection of it differed from its contemporary reality.
Each edit was played back at exactly half-speed, then run through a series of time- and gain-based processes that slowly and meticulously chewed through the audio, revealing hidden layers of content, context, and temporal/spectral production details… shining a flashlight into the dark corners of each selection, exposing the hidden ghosts lurking within.
Time Out New York
Aug 15–21, 2013
Any self-respecting pop star would be delirious to have a hit like “I Love You Always Forever,” an irresistible bit of romantic treacle that launched Welsh singer Donna Lewis to global success in 1996. Same goes for “At the Beginning,” the uplifting duet with Richard Marx from the animated film Anastasia, which returned Lewis to the top of the charts in 1997.
But if you really listened past the earworm chorus and bubbly beat of Lewis’s debut hits, you quickly sensed that she was no flash in the pan. The classically trained daughter of a jazz pianist, Lewis had a breathy coo that could recall Kate Bush, and used it with a flexibility that few pop princesses could muster.
Still does, to judge by Brand New Day, a striking demo Lewis has just recorded with prog-jazz trio the Bad Plus. Produced by avant-guitarist David Torn, the collection addresses a personalized pantheon: Songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Burt Bacharach, Chocolate Genius and Gnarls Barkley mesh cozily and radiate congeniality. “I Love You Always Forever” merits its inclusion. At Drom, pianist Aaron Parks sits in with Bad Plus bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King for what’s certain to be an illuminating reintroduction.—Steve Smith
Presumably the reason why the Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson isn't on this gig is because he's opening a run with veteran drummer Billy Hart's superb quartet at Birdland the same night. That band, with saxophonist Mark Turner and bassist Ben Street, is also strongly recommended; read Hank Shteamer's 2012 Time Out feature on the band for more details. All of which said, Aaron Parks is an excellent choice for a sub with Lewis et al at Drom.