And The Cowgirls Kept On Dancing
very fine album where the only "wrong" thing is the cover, whose
images - which are bound to remind one of the Toy Story cartoon franchise - don't
adequately portray the richness and complexity of the featured music. (YMMV, of
kind of music?", I hear you say. Well, in a nutshell, I'd call it
"improvised music" - and I definitely won't be in the wrong, given
the fact that the album cover says the music - recorded in two days - was
"created on the spot". My description would be far from complete,
however, were I not to refer to the deliberate poly-stylistic approach chosen
here, the "tactile" dimension of this music, the use of overdubbing (not
a lot, but it's definitely there), and those ex post treatments such as echoes
and reverbs (also editing, I suppose) by sound engineer Chris Weeda at Studio
Rapenburg, where he mixed and mastered the material.
is a very "entertaining" album, which highlights the vivaciousness of
the instrumental timbres, and sports a very musical-sounding dynamic range (a
quality that's practically impossible to take for granted nowadays, even when
it comes to this "type" of music). Listeners are invited to turn the
volume knob to the right, adding just a pinch of high freqs.
musicians? Alan Purves on percussion, "squeaky toys", "brim
bram" (?), and "little instruments", and Albert van Veenendaal,
on prepared piano.
first listened to both of them - I mean, on the same album - on a fine work for
quartet titled Midday Moon, which - come to think of it - was also the last
time for me (but nowadays critics are asked to explore the universe on a
bicycle). Later, I caught Purves in fine mode on the album The Midge, by Andy
Bruce And The Rigidly Righteous. Chance has given me the possibility to listen
to van Veenendaal's piano quite a few times, with the relatively recent Minimal
Damage (Miniatures For Prepared Piano) as the best specimen I know of when it
comes to his personal aesthetic.
is an excellent colourist, while van Veenendaal's use of prepared piano makes
one aware of his deep knowledge of the "language" of this instrument,
when it comes to both the "contemporary classical" tradition and the
tonal and timbral richness of the music from the "non-western" world.
album is quite varied, (relatively) accessible, and quite enjoyable on its own.
I have to confess I'd really like to catch these musicians on stage, in order to
have a look at the close relationship between gesture and sound.
have a quick look at those tracks now.
To See You is a fine album opener, quite friendly as per its title, a Calypso
with flutes, the piano here impersonating steel drums.
The Jump Is Over offers a tight rhythm sequence from percussion. There's a
"jazzy" piano theme, piano strings going "zing!", the
"jazzy" piano again (which reminded me of Milt Jackson's vibes!).
Quite a surprise, out come shouting "vocals", quite Gospel!
Unspun Web highlights percussion, the lower portion of the piano keyboard here acting
as a kind of "wood sequencer", the high notes with echoes of Gamelan
(and Morton Subotnick?). Mutable percussion, with an ear-catching
Shoes Blues sounds a bit like a bizarre "salterello" from Southern
Italy. Lotsa percussion. The piece gets progressively more lively. There's a
strong thematic core. Fine timbral surprise, wooden sticks. A slow ending.
Up Your Own Closet is a bizarre "noisy" episode, which for a moment
reminded me of Hans Reichel's daxophone. Toys, percussion, piano. In closing,
little bells with reverb.
In is one of the two long pieces of the album. Something which sounds like an accordion
- or maybe a bagpipe? Purves is Scottish - piano bass, resonant, with a neo-classical
atmosphere. Fine use of pedal, for a "Chopin"-like melody. Pedal by
Purves, and a cool, "folk-y", melody.
Thurst features "lazy" percussion with reverb, piano, and an
"Eastern"-sounding melody. A mouth harp? A few overdubs.
Klompen has a rarefied mood. An alto marimba (?), glockenspiel, resonant
percussion (à la Zappa), woods and metals, the piano here impersonating a harp.
Now Forever is the longest track. A curve progression, it starts slow with
isolated sounds, metallic strings, the individual sounds placed on a dark,
"breathy", canvas. At about 4' there's a strong pulse, then a sketchy
thematic melody. Another very "ethnic-sounding" episode. An
environment with echo, and definitely a few overdubs.
The Tok = "Clock"? Metallic-sounding, very rhythmic. Echoes and
reverbs. Surprisingly thematic.
The Cowgirls Kept On Dancing, with sticks and basso continuo, sounds halfway
between a tarantella and ragtime (!). A brief divertissement.
Bet On Bells. Metals with echo. Strict tempo. Echo! Ambient!
Delights is (I suppose) a humorous piece, with "annoying-sounding"
toys, a real toys orchestra! Piano acting as a pedal. Piano here sounding quite
Story pairs something which to me sounds like a "Debussy moment à la Muhal
Richard Abrams" with a noisy, elephant-like, lament. An ironic title?
© Beppe Colli 2014
| Feb. 27, 2014