The Chicago music scene has produced much to ponder of late, with its avant- offering of Fred Anderson, Vandermark 5, and the electro-soundscapes of Isotope 217 and Tortoise. With the release of Anniversary
a larger vision of Chicago's role as gateway to the West is revealed.
Anniversary is the brainchild of guitarist Charles Kim, who is also known for his work with Pinetop Seven, Boxhead Ensemble and Fruit Bats. His earthy compositions and sparse arrangements suggest a link between the Midwest and the West of Bill Frisell's recent music. Kim's vision of an American frontier is at times moody, dark, and sorrowful like the oppressive grayness of a Chicago winter. From his Chicago vision comes the persistence of the human spirit. Kim builds this sentiment around the core of instruments comprising guitar, accordion, cello, bass and percussion. To this he adds guests Rob Mazurek (Isotope 217, Chicago Underground Duo), Andrew Bird, and Ken Vandermark. Mazurek keeps to a muted trumpet and Vandermark plays a very understated clarinet and bass clarinet. All calculated to draw out the frontier experience of this recording.
Included here is a short film by Jeff Economy that is scored by the track "Cakewalk." This mostly black-and-white video is a clue into the cinematic nature of this music. Kim draws upon the themes of early cinema with its fluttering images and barely seen places and voyeuristic glimpses of lives. Robert Cruz's accordion plays a major role as accompaniment with and counter to the lead guitar of Cruz. Anniversary dances a very slow dance of very flat lands just beyond the rhythm of the Second City. Highly Recommended.