142

radio.string.quartet.vienna: radiodream

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
radio.string.quartet.vienna: radiodream Ah, a string quartet. Calm, gentle—if rather derivative—music may well await. But there's a short verse on the inside cover of radiodream, the closing line of which serves as a fair warning about much of the music that actually awaits: "you can only escape while you are awake." radio.string.quartet.vienna is a band that not only wishes to play with the basic rules of grammar and punctuation; it also wants to play with the imagery of dreams and, for much of the time on this album, it's the visions from the darker realms of sleep that are the band's subject matter. A string quartet it may well be, but there is nothing derivative here, and for every calm and gentle moment there is one of mystery and even fear.

radio.string.quartet.vienna's previous ACT Music releases include covers of John McLaughlin's work (on 2007's Celebrating The Mahavishnu Orchestra) and collaborations with Swedish singer Rigmor Gustaffson on 2010's Calling You and Austrian accordionist Klaus Paier on Radiotree (2008). But this is a band determined to develop and take chances, and familiarity with its previous releases will give little insight into the music on radiodream.

The quartet creates an ethereal, otherworldly mood with its traditional lineup of two violins, viola and cello. Occasional vocals from violinist/main writer Bernie Mallinger and transistor radio noise add to the strangeness of this atmosphere. The musicians are capable of threatening power and nightmarish, dystopian imagery. Mallinger's "Traffic To The Dolphin" sweeps effortlessly between the two; his "Saint Paul's Nightmare" is indeed nightmarish; and the quartet's take on "Strange Fruit" is barely recognizable, yet still portrays the horror of Lewis Allen's original poem. Even Henry Mancini's delightful "Moon River" is somehow discomforting, although it stays close to the familiar melody.

Given the often nightmarish soundscapes of radiodream, the inclusion of Radiohead's "Nice Dream" might be seen as ironic. But radio.string.quartet.vienna proves to be eminently capable of balancing light and dark, it's just not easy to predict when the band will shift between the two. Mallinger's "Streets..." is brief but beautiful, while cellist Asja Valcic's "One Night In Vienna" has a majestic grace that serves to showcase the quartet's power and virtuosity. "I Loves You, Porgy" is lovely, but heartbreakingly so.

radiodream may not always be a comfortable listening experience, but it is always a fascinating one, as radio.string.quartet.vienna moves the string quartet into exciting new places.


Track Listing: Inception; Song--Ode an den Freud; Liebestraum; Traffic To The Dolphin; Nice Dream; Strange Fruit; Streets... ; ... Of Memories; Moon River; One Night In Vienna; Saint Paul's Nightmare; Lonely Night; Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate A Second Before Awakening; Extraction / I Loves You, Porgy.

Personnel: Bernie Mallinger: violin, vocals; Igmar Jenner: violin; Cynthia Liao: viola, erhu (4); Asja Valcic: cello.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: ACT Music


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Ten" CD/LP/Track Review Ten
by Jeff Winbush
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Freedom is a State of Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom is a State of Mind
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "I Long to See You" CD/LP/Track Review I Long to See You
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 11, 2016
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Deeper Journey" CD/LP/Track Review Deeper Journey
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 9, 2017

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!