Buried deep within the collective minds of Eleventh Hour
and Ash & Tabula
are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While neither is primarily devilish or sublime, both share an aspiration towards multiple personalities.
Winter & Winter
Fred Frith's compositional collection moves from odd-meter baroque to atonal romanticism in mere seconds. Written for chamber orchestras as diverse as the music itself, the movements travel through moments of weeping twelve-tone rows to flourishes of chaotic noise. While each demonstrates his ability to push the boundaries of experimental string music, the abrupt changes from serenity to chaos hint at a mind that can't decide if he's a musician with a composer's ear, or vice versa.
Nels Cline/Andrea Parkins/Tom Rainey
Out Trios, Volume 3: Ash & Tabula
The majority of Ash & Tabula sounds as if the trio is going through a group identity crisis: outbursts of genre-hopping abound as guitarist Nels Cline, keyboardist Andrea Parkins and drummer Tom Rainey freely weave between improvised melody and song structure. As with Eleventh Hour, this can be somewhat jarring; just as we are comfortable with a new groove or moment of adrenaline-induced noise, the trio will unexpectedly take a U-turn into another groundbreaking idea that is as eye-opening as the first.
Ash & Tabula opens with "Ruination, an even balance of free jazz atonalism and road warrior angst that starts out with an ear splitting feedback loop and seamlessly morphs into reversed psychedelia. Cline, in a moment of punctual discipline, sheds his distortion for the signature motif of "Problem Child, the album's final selection. His dry tone mixed with the off-kilter harmonies of Parkins and seizure-like soundscapes of Rainey give off the fond memories of lower Manhattan art-rock. The cross-genre quotables are even more present when after a brief exploration of reversed-delay-pedal alchemy, Cline and Rainey explode into a bunker-busting garage throwdown.
While this kind of chaos is commonplace in New York venues such as The Stone or Tonic, these moments of energized rock are what make this record unique.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Lelekovice; Tense Serenity; Allegory; Stick Figures; Fell.
Personnel: Arditti String Quartet: Irvine Arditti: : violin, Graeme Jennings: violin, Ralf Ehlers: viola, Rohan de Saram: violincello; Uwe Dierksen: trombone; William Winant: electric guitars; Fred Frith: electric guitars.
Ash and Tabula
Tracks: Ruination; Lower Story; Alleys of North America; Poem In An Ashtray; Pearly Turbo; Raptor; Problem Child.
Personnel: Nels Cline: guitar; Andrea Parkins: keyboards; Tom Rainey: drums.