Respect the Grooves #2
The Respect the Grooves series picks up again with music I think more people should know. Today, it’s a short list of experimental music from artists spread over the world.
In this instance, this ramblers listening habits lean more toward a blend of acoustic and electronic instruments. And while I dig improvised experiments, I do want an anchor there to ground the adventure. It could be a rhythm or melodic bit that provides a tether for the more adventurous jaunts. A live improvised performance is preferred – it feels more human even if the instruments are primarily electronic. My love of storytelling comes into play here – specifically, an interest in music and visual arts blended into one vehicle to tell stories. These tunes evoke imagery in my mind. Here’s the thing: my love of improvised music is rooted in the discovery of the new, and it’s ability to surprise the listener.
sPace moNkey – The Karman Line
This record was released internationally on December 5, 2014. The work of pianist Morten Qvenild and drummer Gard Nilssen, two well known innovators in Norway, this is a record that strikes this balance I described above. Piano, drums, and a studio full of electronics interact to craft a dynamic musical journey. Often tense and aggressive, these edgier moments make the quieter moments all the more soothing.
sparklehorse + fennesz – In the Fishtank 15
Another more ambient experiment here, from the duo Fennesz and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. If you’ve followed the site, you’re aware of my love for Linkous and the Sparklehorse records. This collaboration is interesting, though only a couple tracks really grab me. I wonder though what they may have accomplished if Linkous hadn’t passed the following March 2010. They performed together live prior to making this record, and perhaps would have continued the working relationship.
Califone – Roomsound
For me, Tim Rutili and Califone represent an ideal blend of acoustic and electronic music. Rustic folk tunes, rolling over droning tones laced with electronics and driven by tumbling rhythms. Lyrically intriguing and cinematic, this and their other records never fail to please. Quicksand/Cradlesnakes may be my favorite record, but today we’re focused on this initially self-released effort.
The Bad Plus – The Rite of Spring
Another of my favorite artists, The Bad Plus represent so much of what I dig about improvised music. Irreverent, brave and yet steeped in the tradition and language of jazz. Here they move further outside my range with an interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s well known piece.
I appreciate classical music, though only listen occasionally, so I’m unable to comment on TBP’s commitment to the original. It’s been hailed by many as a modern and faithful interpretation. I dig it. It’s a powerful and dynamic work, even with this arrangement for the trio.
Stian Westerhus & Pale Horses – Maelstrom
I’ve covered this record before now. It remains on my short list for this category.
How about an experimental post-rock ballads record by one of the world’s most adventurous guitarists? Well known for intense experimental live performances and recordings, Stian Westerhus here steps up as vocalist and songwriter leading this rock trio. The tunes expand and contract in a way that you might expect from the improvisers in this group, yet the melodies and lyrics lend an intimacy that makes the music easy to connect to.