All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

110

Barrel: Gratuitous Abuse

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
How far can the primary family of strings be pushed? Does humor—a question once asked by Frank Zappa—still belong in music? From time to time these questions might be answered in a remarkable performance or two, but as creativity in music falters for lack of true industry support, it is not often that musicians can truly express themselves with a mixture of tonality and atonality, in song and through noise. However, there are some musicians who inhabit the very outer edges of contemporary music who care little for established convention and continue to push the envelope no matter the forum in which they perform. This has happened throughout the ages, so it should come as no surprise that musicians such as Australian Liza Lim, accomplished Swiss composer Katharina Rosenberger, and the musicians on the path-breaking Gratuitous Abuse should continue to break from convention in composition, virtuosity and emotion when they perform.

The British trio Barrel has created a set that is revolutionary, funny and breathtakingly audacious, and includes violinist Alison Blunt, violinist/violist/outré improviser Ivor Kallimn, who is known to hack and cough rhythmically) and cellist Hannah Marshall, who blurs the edges between pizzicato and arco. To the uninitiated, this trio of string virtuosos might sound like musical terrorists. However, it is much more than merely a group of shock artists. Genuine creativity and musical innovation is at the heart of the music on this album; as is extreme humor that takes its cue from Dadaism. In fact it is as if the trio has swallowed the great painter Salvador Dali whole and regurgitated him here with chilling accuracy, rendering his melted imagery with its own sense of musical liquefaction.

From Dali Barrel also gets a certain almost shocking humor as well. Musical portraits such as "Sklatch: unseemly semi-liquid mess" conjure images of maddening drama and genuine horror in music, as much like a musical reproduction of "The Persistence of Memory" as it is the horror that emerged from Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield at the height of their days in King Crimson, though Barrel's approach is softer. Humor pervades in the same manner as Zappa brought to his music; so, even when making music that follows a tonal path, quirkiness in the form of shrieks, howls and remarkably twisted harmonies are performed with alacrity, in not-so-mock seriousness.

There is unimpeachable ingenuity here and even when playing "Rigwiddie Snauchle Strikes Again In Style," the mythology of the characters in the narrative comes to life, with the musicians intervening in the sound of their instruments with sighs, growls, whines and percussive coughs. It is also impossible not to mention "Soft Porn & Hard Cheese," as well as the spooky "Moths & Feathers," both worthy of being called musical charts, despite being entirely invented on the spur of the moment. No matter how farfetched they may seem these are real songs by accomplished musicians.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
After Carnival

After Carnival

CDM Records
2012

buy
Live at Vision Festival

Live at Vision...

Re: Konstrukt
2012

buy
So Oder So

So Oder So

Self Produced
2012

buy
To My Surprise

To My Surprise

Consolidated Artists Productions
2012

buy
Leap In The Dark

Leap In The Dark

Intuition
2012

buy
Into The Open

Into The Open

Your Favourite Jazz
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Sunlight CD/LP/Track Review
Sunlight
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Arise! CD/LP/Track Review
Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read "Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)" CD/LP/Track Review Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)
by Jim Olin
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Hakos Trios" CD/LP/Track Review Hakos Trios
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Some Other Time/Slow Café" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time/Slow Café
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "DICE" CD/LP/Track Review DICE
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Jersey" CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "The Urmuz Epigrams" CD/LP/Track Review The Urmuz Epigrams
by Don Phipps
Published: April 9, 2018