255

Far Corner: Far Corner

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Far Corner: Far Corner Sometimes the strangest things happen in the strangest places. If you were to say that a new chamber rock outfit, comfortably blending a classical music approach with a more aggressive rock stance, had come out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you might be laughed out of the room. Nothing against Milwaukee, it's just that when one thinks of musical progression, one thinks more of established centres like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco. But the truth is that music is where you make it, and if Milwaukee is the setting for an intriguing new group that manages to combine styles that bring to mind early Emerson, Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Univers Zero and Present, then the response is: why not?

Far Corner the album, and Far Corner the band, are the brainchild of keyboardist Dan Maske, a player who, by favouring grand piano first, Hammond organ second, and synthesizers a distant third, brings to mind early Keith Emerson, but with a less caricaturist personality. While Emerson bombastically stole from popular classics and "rocked them up," Maske uses an obviously broad knowledge in contemporary classical music to create his own compositions, which teem with complex time changes, frequent shifts in feel, and dynamics that range from the gentle yet dramatic opening to "The Turning" to the pseudo-metal introduction of "Silly Whim," where cellist Angela Schmidt uses a fuzz box to substitute for the thrashing electric guitar we all know should be there but isn't.

Rounding out the quartet are percussionist Craig Walkner, a fine drummer who navigates odd metres and rapid changes with aplomb, and bassist William Kopecky, who is an absolute find on fretless electric bass. Kopecky, who is well-known in progressive rock circles, playing with groups including the Par Lindh Project, Tempest and Parallel Mind, is able to anchor the band when necessary, but is just as likely to be called upon to dominate a piece, acting as its melodic centre.

While the majority of the album is focused on Maske's complex yet always engaging writing, Far Corner is more than just a band of highly skilled performers of detailed composition. Centred around basic structures, the 17-minute, three-part "Something Out There" suite demonstrates that the group is equally capable of collective improvisation, a facet that is also a part of their live performance. From abstract, open-ended passages to more direct rhythmic motifs, the group may favour structured form but they also show themselves to have the subtlety and intuition to interact and speak with a single voice in a freer setting.

What separates Far Corner from some of its progenitors is its apparent lack of ego. While this work is as challenging as it comes, there doesn't seem to be any of the "look at me" kind of ego-stroking that so many of the early progressive groups seemed to be about. Far Corner seems more about dedication to the writing, and to creating a vibe that says more by implication than by overt display.

Visit Far Corner on the web.


Track Listing: Silly Whim; Going Somewhere?; Something Out There: I; II; III; With One Swipe of Its Mighty Paw; Outside; Tracking; The Turning; Fiction

Personnel: William Kopecky (electric bass - fretless and fretful); Dan Maske (grand piano, Hammond organ, synthesizers, additional percussion), Angela Schmidt (acoustic and electric cello), Craig Walkner (percussion)
Additional musicians: Frederick Schmidt (clarinet), Heather Schmidt (flute)

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano" CD/LP/Track Review EJ: Song Explorations on Acoustic Guitar and Piano
by Doug Collette
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Omío" CD/LP/Track Review Omío
by James Nadal
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Christmastime in New Orleans" CD/LP/Track Review Christmastime in New Orleans
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Make The Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Make The Changes
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Sinking Houseboat Confusion" CD/LP/Track Review Sinking Houseboat Confusion
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "Away With You" CD/LP/Track Review Away With You
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!