405

Hamster Theatre: The Public Execution of Mister Personality / Quasi Day Room: Live at the Moore Theatre

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Hamster Theatre: The Public Execution of Mister Personality / Quasi Day Room: Live at the Moore Theatre While countless artists are busily dissolving artificial boundaries between musical styles, it's still shocking to hear a group just plain nuke them. Hamster Theatre does exactly that on this two-disc set presenting alternate yet not dissimilar aspects of this genre-busting group spearheaded by multi-instrumentalists/composers Dave Wiley and Jon Stubbs. The release includes the studio recording The Public Execution of Mister Personality and Quasi Day Room: Live at the Moore Theatre, from a 2002 live performance.

The studio disc demonstrates more breadth, if for no other reason than the ability to create a broader sonic palette; Wiley alone overdubs as many as six instruments at one time. There are many antecedents to this music, but Rock In Opposition's Henry Cow and Univers Zero are two of the most obvious examples. However, Hamster Theatre is less overtly political than Cow and—with a wonderful sense of the absurd stemming from Wiley's love of Swedish accordionist Lars Hollmer—less persistently bleak than UZ.

Hamster Theatre accomplishes much in little time. The episodic "162 begins in a Clogs-like chamber space, takes on a harder edge when bass, drums and electric guitar enter, then devolves briefly into free-form Ayler-esque abandon, courtesy of reedsman Mark Harris. "We Unearth... introduces the icy cool of cascading electric piano and flute—reminiscent of recorded work by Finnish harpist/pianist Iro Haarla—but Mike Johnson's jagged guitar adds a paradoxical edge which harkens back to Fred Frith's work on Henry Cow's Unrest (Virgin, 1974). "Reddy 4 Luv alternates a brooding, tension-filled vamp with a bright and catchy theme—albeit in 7/4.

Counterpoint is the order of the day, and virtually every track is a complex intertwining of themes and influences ranging from RIO to Erik Satie, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. On the basis of the studio disc, and with much of Hamster Theatre's music written for modern dance and multimedia performance, one might think they'd have a hard time in concert, but the live set allays that assumption. From the skewed polka of "The Cat Song to the quasi-Latin rhythm of "But Di Lie Town So, the group's palette may be more limited, but its musical references are anything but. It's also clear that improvisation is a part of Hamster Theatre, but generally under controlled circumstances.

It's been suggested that stylistically defiant bands like Univers Zero are creating a classical music for the new millennium. The same can be said about Hamster Theatre, which possesses an even greater range than UZ. The Public Execution is a challenging but evocative and completely enthralling listen.

Track Listing: CD1: Race Against Time; "162"; We Unearth the Lost Book of Mister Personality and Its Consequences; Reddy 4 Luv; The Quasdi Day Room Ceremonial Quadrille; Love Theme from "All Clytemnestra on the Western Front"; Oye Comatose; Litost; La Sacre D'Merde; The Quasi Day Room Ceremonial Tango; The Fairytale in Reverse; Phoenix; It Was Only a Dream. CD2: Bean Dance; The Cat Song; But Di Lie Town So; Jeanne-Marie; Bug 2: The History of the United States of America; Vermilion Hue Over Lake Lausanne; Tick Fever; Ving Vang; Home; The 5; Hamster Dance; The Bug Show; Cat 2: Seige on Hamburger City.

Personnel: Dave Wiley: accordion, organ, bells, wind, harmonium, guitarron, piano, whistling, shakers, electronic piano, percussion, vocals, handclaps, cymbal, zither, snare drum, bass drum, violin, ukulele, bass, drums, guitar; Jon Stubbs: trombone, bass, bells, percussion, triangle, keyboards; Mark Harris: saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet, flutes, percussion, voice; Mike Johnson: guitars, mandolin, fretless banjo, percussion; Raoul Rossiter: drums, percussion, marimba; Brian McDougall: bass (CD2); Matt Spencer: bass (CD1); Emily Bowman: stroh violin (CD1).

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read In the Still of the Night CD/LP/Track Review In the Still of the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Zea CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Asian Fields Variations CD/LP/Track Review Asian Fields Variations
by John Kelman
Published: May 21, 2017
Read Left Right Left CD/LP/Track Review Left Right Left
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Love For Sale" CD/LP/Track Review Love For Sale
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 23, 2016
Read "Close Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Close Enough
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Tierra" CD/LP/Track Review Tierra
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Azul Infinito" CD/LP/Track Review Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Azul Infinito
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 17, 2016
Read "Parking Lot Symphony" CD/LP/Track Review Parking Lot Symphony
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Heads & Tales Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Heads & Tales Volume 2
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, and provide read access to our future articles.