154

Bang on a Can: Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Bang on a Can: Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing As much as the Kronos Quartet paved the way for modern chamber musicians to broaden their horizons by recording genre-busting albums including Pieces of Africa , Bang on a Can has extended that road by, amongst other things, interpreting ambient works like Brian Eno's Music for Airports. Both groups, one a more conventional chamber quartet, the other a rather odd ensemble that includes guitar, bass, percussion, clarinet, keyboards and cello, have breathed new life into a stale form by expanding on the type of material available for examination.

It's no coincidence that Bang on a Can has chosen to release two albums on the same day. One, Phillip Glass: 5ths , re-evaluates early minimalist work that blends longer Eastern forms with more Western harmonic conventions. The other, Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing , teams the group with Naing, Burmese master of the pat waing, a traditional instrument made of 21 separately tuned drums, for a programme that does the opposite—blend more Eastern harmonic conventions with shorter Western form. The result is two recordings that redefine the meaning of modern chamber music, with Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing in particular demonstrating just how far afield it can go in the hands of more forward-thinking musicians.

There is an overriding sense of joy about Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing. On a program of Burmese music that includes four pieces by Naing, the members of Bang on a Can continue to prove themselves to be highly adaptable players. The material is characterized by rapid shifts in tempo and call-and-response type passages between Naing's pat waing and Bang on a Can's more conventional instrumentation. Harmonically based around various pentatonic scales, the compositions are pleasing to the ear, without any sharp edges or jagged dissonances. But the rhythmic complexity of the pieces more than make up for any melodic simplicity, in terms of providing a challenge for both the musicians and the listener. But the disparity between an almost na've harmonic sensibility and a more tightly-construed rhythmic concept make for a programme that is richly varied yet never less than approachable.

Naing's percussion work is remarkable, with a dexterity that is more than a little frightening with all the shifting tempos. Still, David Cossin's drum set and Robert Black's bass form a rhythm section that is at times quite conventionally Western in its approach, most notably on the piece "Improvisation," where Naing, guitarist Mark Stewart and violinist Todd Reynolds, on loan from Cantaloupe label-mates Ethel , get the chance to take more than a few risks.

Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing continues to assert that the contemporary chamber group is more than just viable; it is a living, breathing and evolving form. By expanding the timbral palette beyond the conventional and experimenting with music from broader sources, Bang on a Can continues to transcend narrow definition and stylistic constraint.


Track Listing: Hsaing Kyaik De Maung; Ka Pya Chi; Sein Chit Tee a Mhat Ta Ya; Seik Kyu Ahla (1); Japan Patsan/Taethit Muhan Gita Than; Improvisation; Kyi Nu Bwe; Seik Kyu Ahla; Sein Ozi

Personnel: Ma Aye Myint (si wa), Robert Black (bass), David Cossin (drumset), Lisa Moore (piano), Kyaw Kyaw Naing (pat waing, gongs, 6-drum set, pat ma), Marc Perlman (keyboard), Todd Reynolds (violin), Mark Stewart (guitar), Wendy Sutter (cello), Maung Maung Myint Swe (si wa), Evan Ziporyn (clarinet)

Title: Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Cantaloupe Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "IIII+IIII" CD/LP/Track Review IIII+IIII
by James Nadal
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Live At Okuden" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Okuden
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Goodbye to Language" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye to Language
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Conditions" CD/LP/Track Review Conditions
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Crossing" CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "A Woman's Work..." CD/LP/Track Review A Woman's Work...
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 30, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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