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 The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Resolution" CD/LP/Track Review Resolution
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Ripple" CD/LP/Track Review Ripple
by Bob Kenselaar
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Live At Zaal 100" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Zaal 100
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Away With You" CD/LP/Track Review Away With You
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "Solo Gemini" CD/LP/Track Review Solo Gemini
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 1, 2016

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!