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...

345

Fred Frith: Nowhere / Sideshow / Thin Air

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
His sixth album of music for dance, Nowhere / Sideshow / Thin Air continues multi-instrumentalist/composer Fred Frith's longstanding collaboration with Carla Kihlstedt. The violinist was heard most recently on Frith's previous dance disc, The Happy End Problem (ReR Megacorp, 2006), and in performance as part of his well-received Art Bears Songbook, with Art Bears percussionist/lyricist/co-founder Chris Cutler, and Cosa Brava, a new rock-oriented group with a debut disc due out in 2010. It's clearly a fruitful relationship that has seen the intrepid duo explore everything from the avant-tinged to the painfully beautiful. Even when he's being lyrical—as he seems to be more often than not lately— Frith skews his music to the left of center; distinctly personal even when eminently hummable.



This is no surprise from a co-founder of British group/Rock in Opposition progenitor, Henry Cow, whose 40th Anniversary Box Set (ReR Megacorp, 2008) was an overdue expansion of the limited perspective its original recordings provided. Cow may have been compositionally dense and improvisationally unfettered, but it was also capable of memorable if oblique melodism, and Frith's inherent stylistic eclecticism has only matured with time.



Nowhere is the disc's most angular suite, with Kihlstedt's participation more spare; often buried within Frith's layers of guitars, bass, keyboards, samples, percussion, and voice. From the industrial to the ethereal, this series of miniatures draws from overtly musical sources and sonics from farther afield—"found-scapes," as Frith calls them.



Even when this music isn't to be felt more than heard, Frith refracts beauty through an unpredictable prism. Sideshow leans more decidedly towards the melodic, though constructed from contrapuntal layering. On "clearing the throat," Frith playfully exchanges classical guitar lines with Kihlsted over a melancholic but unpredictable electric guitar drone, spare percussion, and sampled sounds. Even more immediately compelling, the fugue-like "show time" is an ebbing-and-flowing piece for two violins (he joins Kihlstedt on "low-grade violin"), acoustic guitar, and piano. Only the dryly humorous Frith would include Kihlstedt's performance gaff (or is it?); the violinist apologizes as the piece continues—trying, it seems, to find its feet but only doing so in its final few seconds.



The only dance score that doesn't involve Kihlstedt is Thin Air which, with violinist Hande Erdem and cellist Theresa Wong, suggests—and delivers—a chamber-like intimacy, but no more so than the rest of this genre-busting disc that catholically references a variety of styles, but ultimately transcends all of its sources. Most unexpected is the closing "fast feet," a rocking miniature that, more than anything else, hints at what might be to come with Cosa Brava. It's never a bad idea to leave your audience hungry for more, and as full a program as the 77-minute Nowhere / Sideshow / Thin Air is, its prescient ending does just that.


Track Listing: Nowhere: to run; near; to be seen; else; can compare; getting; going; to hide. Sideshow: clearing the throat; show time; on or in the wing; act two; angels with thirty faces; in which all may have been revealed; ghost of BB; Ms. Mac drinks and goes home. Thin Air: ladders; screened; plastic; running; falling; fast feet.

Personnel: Fred Frith: electric guitar, acoustic guitar (9-22), keyboards, bass, percussion, voice (1-8), samples (1-8, 17-22), bass mbira (9-16), low-grade violin (10), computing (9-22), radio (17-22), running (17-22); Carla Kihlstedt: violin (1-16); Gail Brand: trombone cameo (9-16); Fred Giuliani: samples (9-16); Hande Erdem: violin (17-22); Theresa Wong: cello (17-22).

Title: Nowhere / Sideshow / Thin Air | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ReR Megacorp

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Lifelike CD/LP/Track Review
Lifelike
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Whatever Possessed Me CD/LP/Track Review
Whatever Possessed Me
by Don Phipps
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live At The Fillmore East 1968 CD/LP/Track Review
Live At The Fillmore East 1968
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "The Study of Touch" CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Elementals" CD/LP/Track Review Elementals
by Chris May
Published: April 18, 2018
Read "Wes Montgomery In Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Wes Montgomery In Paris
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 24, 2018
Read "In The Past" CD/LP/Track Review In The Past
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "All Soundings Are True" CD/LP/Track Review All Soundings Are True
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 31, 2017
Read "Double Bass" CD/LP/Track Review Double Bass
by John Eyles
Published: April 7, 2018