33

Jherek Bischoff: Composed

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
The touring life isn't the one to which every musician aspires. Sometimes the call of the home, fireside and comfy slippers is stronger than that of the road. Seattle-based Jherek Bischoff—lately of Parenthetical Girls and The Dead Science—prefers working on music at home, producing and arranging as well as composing and playing. Composed, his debut under his own name, is filled with stylish, lushly-orchestrated, songs that readily affirm his preference.

Bischoff's inventive compositions combine with the voices of his guest singers to give a real sense of variety to the album. His choice of singers is inspired: every one of them brings a fresh sensibility to the songs. There's also a judicious selection of guest musicians: guitarist Nels Cline's contribution ("Blossom") is particularly striking.

David Byrne's voice is instantly recognizable on "Eyes," which he co-wrote with Bischoff. The gentle lilt of the melody and the romantic imagery of the lyrics combine to create an immediately engaging song. Another distinctive vocalist and Byrne collaborator, Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso, appears on "The Secret Of The Machines." The lyrics are adapted from Rudyard Kipling's 1911 poem of the same name, Veloso's luxurious voice giving the images of technological advance a romance of their own.

"Insomnia, Death and the Sea" is the album's most cinematic and portentous song. Co-composer Dawn McCarthy's voice soars over a string arrangement that veers between a doomy starkness and a Phil Spector-esque Wall Of Sound.

It's "Young and Lovely," however, that delivers the knockout musical blow. Another full-on soundscape of percussion and strings drives Zac Pennington's crystalline vocals (another member of Parenthetical Girls)and SoKo towards a sudden downward shift in tempo for a mid-section enlivened by brass and reeds redolent of Weimar cabaret. Then strings and drums return, Pennington takes the vocal lead and everything flies towards a dramatic denouement: "No longer young..."

Composed is beautifully crafted. Bischoff produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the album and on this evidence he excels in every role. His recording technique, as he tells it, involved recording the instrumentalists (sadly, the orchestral players are not credited on the review CD)—and every singer except Byrne and Veloso—individually in their own homes, often travelling from place to place by bicycle. He wrote the songs not, as is usual, on piano or guitar, but on the ukulele. It isn't clear if comfy slippers are integral to Bischoff's approach, but if Bischoff's choice of transportation and instrument are the secret to great music then it's time every composer invested in a bike and a uke.

Track Listing: Introduction; Eyes; The Secret Of The Machines; The Nest; Blossom; Your Ghost; Counting; Young And Lovely; Insomnia, Death And The Sea.

Personnel: Jherek Bischoff: vocals (2, 5); David Byrne; vocals (2); Caetano Veloso: vocals (3); Mirah Zeitlin: vocals (4); Craig Wedren: vocals (6); Carla Bozulich: vocals (7); Zac Pennington: vocals (8); SoKo: vocals (8); Dawn McCarthy: vocals (9); Paris Hurley: violin (4); Nels Cline: guitar (5); Greg Saunier: percussion (3); and others.

Title: Composed | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Brassland


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy" CD/LP/Track Review History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Zentuary" CD/LP/Track Review Zentuary
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "The Things We Did Last Summer" CD/LP/Track Review The Things We Did Last Summer
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "Silk & Steel" CD/LP/Track Review Silk & Steel
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.