Chris Cutler


Those who have a special place in their hearts for Chris Cutler's music have waited with a certain amount of curiosity (maybe, in some cases, with a pinch of trepidation) for this CD to be released, the album in question being witness to Cutler's most recent guise: those solo concerts where the "electrified kit" concept was shown in public for the first time. This CD, of course, has a very long history behind it: Cutler's highly personal concept on the drums was already full-formed by the time of Legend (1973), an album which highlighted his personality, rigor, clarity, and versatility (a style that was quite influential, by the way, on both sides of the Atlantic, though subterraneously); in the following years, Cutler's language dialogued with various materials, always pertinently, always easy to recognize though malleable and ever-changing, in response to his interlocutors and their concepts. It was at the end of the Seventies that what's really new here - the electrification of the kit - moved its baby steps: check those albums released by Cassiber, those duo albums with Fred Frith, the album by the Science Group and the excellent - and unfortunately under-praised (had it been released on a different label, whoa!) - Quake (1999), a duo performance with Thomas Dimuzio.

Solo shows an approach to improvisation that highlights the whole, while at the same time multiplying the sound sources, with treatments making the layering of sounds possible, and also those slow decay dimension that's consciously looked for. Sometimes the "touch" we all know is there, telling us who's who, while sometimes it's likely that one will wonder if one is really listening to just an instrumentalist playing in real time and not, say, to "two laptops and a drum set". Quite peculiar, this, sometimes I seemed to (wrongly?) detect some extrovert, picturesque sonic masses la Dockstader. This is a work that to me sounds as the opposite of the music concept that highlights particles.

For what kind of potential audience? is quite difficult to say. Those already familiar with those names mentioned above will find this CD interesting and worth repeated listening sessions (the album is well recorded, and it features quite varied climates), but it's not easy for me to anticipate the reaction of those who listen to "electronic" music. What is very important here is what listeners will bring to the table: thanks to the album's excellent, in-depth liner notes, attentive listeners will have no trouble understanding the links between gesture and sound that make it possible for one to add meaning to beauty. It goes without saying that the album does not feature those regularities that immediately signal the presence of "deluxe wallpaper". There is no vagueness or "clangourness" here, so I think it's unlikely that in today's "particle"-loving world this album will be greeted with much enthusiasm.

Beppe Colli

Beppe Colli 2002 | Nov. 29, 2002