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    Peter Hannan – Rethink Forever

    March 28th, 2011

    Peter Hannan - Rethink Forever

    This CD recently showed up at random in my post office box, and boy I’m sure glad it did! Canadian composer Peter Hannan joins forces with three venerated Vancouver vocal entities, slathers them with weird electronic effects, and, in the process, pops open a strikingly odd treasure chest of pure sonic pleasure. The title track floats into your hammers, stirrups and anvils on a 19-minute long barge full of joyful, melodic choral singing, courtesy of Musica Intima, perfectly meshed with synth drones, cut-up vocal shards, snappy drum samples and flying saucers lifting off. The text is composed of the 200 most common English words, phrases from a love advice web site and a Tallis song.

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    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 2

    March 17th, 2011

    A small, tropical island measuring just 69 x 95 miles nestled between Java and Lombok in the vast archipelago of Indonesia, Bali is covered with lush jungles, rice terraces, mountains and beautiful beaches, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Some come for the sun, sand, surf, and world class resorts and spas, while others enjoy the predominantly Hindu culture that is celebrated daily with highly evolved dance, music, art and architecture.

    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 2 presents an all-dance and gamelan extravaganza courtesy of the well-oiled machine that is Ubud’s regularly scheduled tourist shows. Opening the program, the lightning fast and loud gamelan, Semarandhana, stirs up an aural Earthquake inside the Agung Rai Museum of Art, as the Seke Werdha Arma (The Peliatan Masters) troupe displays the adorable Pendet and Legong Lasem dances. Next, the Sadha Budaya troupe presents the lovely Gabor and Legong Kraton dances at Ubud Palace. For the finale, we return to Ubud Palace as the Bina Ramaja troupe enacts a violent Legong Jobog dance, then stages a super-dramatic chapter from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana Ballet.

    For tons of photos and a detailed travel journal, visit the Tropical Punch Tour page.


    Robert Moran – Cabinet of Curiosities

    March 12th, 2011

    Robert Moran - Cabinet of Curiosities

    Cabinet of Curiosities is a curious collection of seven compositions in which Dan Moore and Iowa Percussion realize the graphic percussion scores of Robert Moran. These works begin in 1964 and proceed through the mists of time all the way up to 2010. The program kicks off with “Interiors II” (1964), a solo performance by Dan comprised of 22 overdubbed tracks featuring percussion instruments from around the world. The result is a vivid, random field of tick-tacks, pitter-patters and plink-plonks. Next, Iowa Percussion goes on an “Elegant Journey” (1965) into a thick, sustained web of sonic briar patches covered with a frothy mix of ambient field recordings. The centerpiece of the album is a 25-minute sprawler called “Salagrama” (1979), an exercise in gorgeous understatement which was originally commissioned for a cathedral organ, then adapted for percussion. Indeed, in this solo piece overdubbed by Dan, tectonically slow, droning synth notes coupled with barely-there vibes, bells, wind chimes, gongs and a triangle launch a perfect night of midnight meditation.

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    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 1

    March 7th, 2011

    A small, tropical island measuring just 69 x 95 miles nestled between Java and Lombok in the vast archipelago of Indonesia, Bali is covered with lush jungles, rice terraces, mountains and beautiful beaches, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Some come for the sun, sand, surf, and world class resorts and spas, while others enjoy the predominantly Hindu culture that is celebrated daily with highly evolved dance, music, art and architecture.

    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 1 presents a few tidbits of thoroughly entrancing gamelan and dance performances in the island’s cultural center, Ubud. The proceedings begin with a somber post-temple ceremony procession out of Pura Marajan Agung, the temple of Ubud’s royal family. Next comes several glimpses of the Sekehe Gong Panca Artha troupe at Ubud Palace, performing the exquisite Legong Lasem, Barong, Sunda Upasunda and Legong Trance dances. A short excerpt of a raucous shadow puppet play by Wayang Kulit Kertha arrives next, followed by a brief glance of musical instruments under construction at the Pande Made Gableran gamelan foundry in Blahbatuh. A bit of spirited gamelan practice in Peliatan and a visit to the lush and scenic Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud round out this eye-popping journey through the center of the Island of the Gods.

    For tons of photos and a detailed travel journal, visit the Tropical Punch Tour page.


    Oasis Quartet

    March 4th, 2011

    Oasis Quartet

    Not to be confused with the rock band Oasis, whose music I’ve never heard but I’m sure I’d hate, the Oasis Quartet is kind of like a barbershop quartet, except they play saxophones instead of sing. Straight out of the gate, their first album is self-titled, which is confusing, because if anyone ever asks me if I’ve heard Oasis Quartet, I won’t know if they meant the group (like, in a live setting) or the CD, causing the conversation to quickly descend into a quagmire of misunderstanding. Okay, now that my little hissy fit of negativity is over, let’s proceed into a more positive pasture. The album Oasis Quartet features the works of three 20th century composers. First up is Phillip Glass with his “String Quartet No. 3.” In this work, which was originally scored for violin but later adapted for sax, the soprano, alto, tenor and baritones float smooth, pleasant melodies throughout your apartment. Even if you don’t want to pay close attention, it will function perfectly as background music at your next dinner party–especially when the basil pasta is served up. Ironically, this smooth music was written for a film called Mishima, about a Japanese author and radical political activist who committed suicide after he arranged a coup attempt that failed! Thierry Escaich’s 11-and-a-half minute “La Bal” marries a little tango and waltz with a rock-like energy, occasionally employing outright dissonance and crazy Tetris shape-pounding runs. Ida Gotkovsky’s “Quatuor” is more somber for the first 23 minutes, only to get super urgent in the final section. Looking at this album as a whole, I’d say the Oasis Quartet–the group and the album–offers up a generous serving of sinuous saxophone for lovers of clean tones.

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    Thai Elephant Orchestra – Water Music

    March 2nd, 2011

    Thai Elephant Orchestra - Water Music

    Elephants are among the largest, smartest and most majestic animals on the planet Earth. It’s about time someone recorded their jam sessions! While a lot of lesser human bands are often referred to as supergroups, what we have here is literally and truly worthy of that lofty moniker. Right off the bat, the first track on this Water Music CD pushes out of the speakers a fat array of guttural growls, shrieks and moans with the heaviest cling-clang percussion not only from this side of the Chao Phraya, but on any side of any river. The other songs veer all the way from gentle interludes full of loosely pinging atmosphere to downright spacey, rhythmic workouts that you could swear were played by stoned Germans back in the ’70s. But no, it was all performed live with no overdubs on big drums, gongs and xylophone-like instruments at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center by 14 pachyderms that range in age from three to 29 years. The only exception is track one, in which a master mahout and holy man, Boonyang Boonthiam, beautifully sings along with the animals, and two other folks who add the wispy sound of rainsticks (which the elephants couldn’t hold) to tracks two and three. I wish I would have known about the Thai Elephant Orchestra when I visited Thailand last summer. I would have checked them out for sure. But, at least I have the next best thing–a CD full of their oddly relaxing and wonderfully “out there” music. I highly recommend it!

    Label: Mulatta Records Catalog Number: MUL020 Format: CD Packaging: Tri-Fold Mini-LP Jacket Tracks: 10 Total Time: 69:28 Country: United States Released: 2010 More: Amazon, Mulatta Records, Dave Soldier, YouTube

    Text ©2011 Arcane Candy