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John Russell / Maarten Altena / Terry Day: The Fairly Young Bean

Robert Spencer By

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This string/percussion trio explores textures on these twenty-six brief tracks. Some are briefer than others: "See for Yourself" is the longest at 9:28, and "Emphasis" is almost nine minutes. But eleven tracks are under two minutes long.

Eschewing melodic and rhythmic continuity, John Russell (guitar), Maarten Altena (cello, bass), and Terry Day (percussion), build up small clusters of sound in these small spaces, relying mostly on the percussive possibilities of each instrument. Occasionally, however, Russell coaxes some clear bell-like tones from his guitar, and Altena picks up the bow, and the proceedings become a bit more immediately accessible.

But that isn't to say that for the most part this is utterly forbidding stuff. Its logic unfolds as one listens closely. The small palettes afford room to explore all kinds of sonic adventures: "Age for Retirement" pits the highest-pitched squeaks against low bass scrapings; "Emphasis" veers toward almost country guitar without ever skirting into tonality, as "Half a Nicker" toys with classicism; "Cue for Something" has a stentorian drama and air of announcement (but indeed, for what?); and so on through the disc.

Thus for the adventurous, The Fairly Young Bean will be full of realized possibilities.


Personnel:

John Russell, ac g; Maarten Altena, cel, b, vcl; Terry Day, perc, vcl.

Track listing: Aphorism / Before Long / See for Yourself / Defer Judgment / Heave a Brick / Effervescence / Chief of Police / Age for Retirement / Hyphenated / Javelin / Cafeteria / Hell for Leather / Emphasis / Envelope / Over the Top / Performing / Cue for Something / Half a Nicker / As Far as We Go / Tea for Three / Euphemism / Viva la Difference / Double You for the Kitty / Eggs for Breakfast / Wife or Mistress / Said for Effect.

Title: The Fairly Young Bean | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Emanem


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