Nov 24 2012
The Something Different series isn’t really an official Bird is the Worm review category, though with some of the albums I’ve got lined up, I probably should institute one. I use the designation to highlight albums that don’t really sound like anything else around. They won’t be capital-J Jazz. Without exception, they’ll transcend genre. They’re their own thing. They’re Something Different. I’ve got two of those right now.
Oddarrang – Cathedral
Drummer Olavi Louhivuori really had no choice but to form the Oddarrang ensemble. Performing and recording with groups led by Mats Eilertsen and Tomasz Stanko, Louhivuori was never gonna find a spot for these compositions floating around in his head. Cathedral is a soundscape of post-jazz, post-rock, modern classical, folk, ambient electronica, and drone, which means it’s none of these things as much as all of them.
However, even though it’s a jumble of influences, the music is laid back and easy on the ears. Yes, the compositions present a variety of folds and wrinkles, but it’s still just a warm blanket… lovely music that fills up a quiet room with peaceful sounds made for drifting through the day.
Your album personnel: Olavi Louhivuori (drums, percussion, synths, piano), Osmo Ikonen (cello, vocals, church organ), Ilmari Pohjola (trombone, noise, voice), Lasse Sakara (acoustic & electric guitars), and Lasse Lindgren (acoustic & electric bass).
Horns soar effortlessly, and appear at times to just hang there suspended in place. Guitars refract notes, and sometimes twang ’em. Trombone and cello collaborate to provide the cool gurgle of a forest stream, where trombone is the rocky current and cello the placid surface bathed in sunlight. Drums take their time adding asynchronous syllables to a measured conversation. Ambient music for the thinking man on a day spent dreaming.
This is strange and beautiful music, and nobody but this ensemble could’ve created it.
Released on the Texicalli Records label. Technically released in the final month of 2011, I’m including it under 2012 reviews.
Music from the Helsinki, Finland scene.
Available at eMusic. Available at Amazon: MP3
Katherine Young – Pretty Monsters
Well, they sure nailed the spirit of this album with the title Pretty Monsters. Led by bassoonist Katherine Young, this quartet delivers scarred, thrashing music that elevates Beauty as a concept transcendent of absolutes.
There is nothing pretty about this music. And as far as monsters go, this music has sharp claws and fangs, but a smile like a muppet. This is an album that a person could warm up to. It’s likable in its way. It’s Something Different.
Your album personnel: Katherine Young (bassoon and electronics), Owen Stewart-Robertson (guitar and electronics), Mike Pride (drums, percussion), and Erica Dicker (violin).
Best tracks juxtapose a refracted sway and pretty tones with frenetic screeches and hard dissonance, especially when one sonic trait gradually forms from the midst of the other and the other fades into the backdrop. Fourth track “Crushed” is a prime example of the engaging soundplay.
Two songs that don’t fall into that mold, but have their own charismatic identities are track six “Deuterium,” replete with elegant strings atop choppy guitar chords… a ballad for those happiest in loneliness. Also, second track “Patricia Highsmith,” which has a stoned headbangers Rock pulse that gets increasingly magnetic as the song develops.
This ain’t an album that’s gonna appeal to everybody, but it is an album everyone should at least give the time of day to. It’s albums like this that will have such a provocative effect on some people (albeit, perhaps but a small group) as to leave them thinking about music in an entirely different way.
Released on the Public Eyesore Records label.
Music from the Chicago scene.
You can stream the album, and purchase it, on the artist bandcamp page.
That cool album cover art is by Rob Patterson.
Katherine Young is also a member of chamber music quartet Till By Turning. Go on and listen to some of their music on their bandcamp page. It’ll give you a different facet of her music.