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Alloy Orchestra: Masters Of Slapstick

Glenn Astarita By

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Along with an array of percussion instruments large and small, synthesizer, accordion, musical saw, clarinet and other instruments, the “Alloy Orchestra” provides contemporary scores for three comedy classics of yore on Masters Of Slapstick.

What we have here are three men scoring soundscapes that might serve as some sort of imaginary setting to these beloved gems of the Silent Film era. Besides a witty spin on the familiar Laurel & Hardy theme, the musicians perform engagingly vivid originals that should gleefully merge one’s presumably fertile imagination with this bygone yet altogether significant and historical era of film. There are 42 tracks in total commencing with 16 pieces that provide the imagery for Buster Keaton’s “One Week”, 11 dedicated to Laurel & Hardy’s “Big Business” and 15 to coincide with Charlie Chaplin’s “Easy Street”. Just imagine Laurel & Hardy’s classic 1929 film “Big Business” where Stan & Ollie are attempting to sell Christmas trees in sunny California while we listen to the “Alloy Orchestra’s sagacious and thoroughly whimsical soundtrack. The musicians render magnificent imagery complete with all of the customary whistles, woodblocks, and saws while instilling pathos and humor through their acute and thoroughly distinctive representations of Hollywood during it’s cinematic infancy. Roger C. Miller’s synth work and arrangements are nothing short of fabulous as multi-instrumentalists Terry Donahue and Ken Winokur work the percussions, woodwinds and other oddball niceties. Without a doubt, these gents have it all down to a science as they perform kaleidoscopic orchestrations that are apt to touch upon a plethora of musical styles. Mr. Miller gets quite a bit of mileage out of his electronic keyboards as he shrewdly simulates sounds and motifs that correlate the gestures and sensations relative to the nature of these films. Ken Winokur and Terry Donahue work wonders whether jazzing the proceedings up or providing the accentuation and effects. You will laugh, smile and perhaps visualize the antics, which might include pratfalls, or the comedians evading the bad guy yet more often than not, enjoy the sentiment paid to an exciting and adventurous time in motion pictures.

Simply stated, Masters Of Slapstick is a gem! A wonderfully moving experience and companion document for those who revere and cherish these great films of yesteryear while the overall scope and congeniality of the music should enjoy widespread appeal to young and old alike. Highly recommended. * * * * *

Personnel:

Roger C. Miller; synthesizer: Ken Winokur; Percussion, Clarinet: Terry Donahue; percussion, Accordion, Musical Saw.

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