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new Rich Woodson album

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  • Michael Anton Parker
    I just wrote a quickie review of this new disc for DMG and I thought people here would be interested in it. This is a self-released album I believe, so it
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 30, 2005
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      I just wrote a quickie review of this new disc for DMG and I thought
      people here would be interested in it. This is a self-released album
      I believe, so it won't be quite as easy to get as the Cuneiform album,
      but I'm sure the usual sources will make it easy enough... By the
      way, in case anybody didn't know, Rich had never heard anything by
      Henry Cow, Blast, Tipographica, etc when he made his first album. He
      checked that stuff out after the reviews mentioned it. He arrived at
      his music through a totally different and original path. He still
      only has a minor familiarity with our RIO superheroes... Go figure!
      He's a true original... Maybe this music is slightly too "difficult"
      for some avant-proggers though... I think people know whether it's
      for them though. The avant-classical types around here will be all
      over it drooling and the people who lean more towards straight prog
      will get a headache...

      Mike Parker
      SE Pennsylvania

      np: Black Sabbath _Paranoid_

      The best way to predict the future is to invent it. --Alan Kay

      ---------------------------------

      RICH WOODSON'S ELLIPSIS - The Nail That Stands Up Gets Pounded Down
      (N/twirp records 001; USA) If you took a random one-second sample of
      this disc, you could easily mistake it for jazz, mainly because of the
      timbres: drumkit, doublebass, tenor sax, clarinet, electric guitar. If
      you took a random two-second sample, though, such a mixup would never
      occur. Instead, you might easily mistake it for Blast's A
      Sophisticated Face or Henry Cow's Western Culture. But that similarity
      would also soon fade with a few more seconds, because Rich Woodson has
      a singular and rather radical musical concept you might call "rock
      serialism" in honor of its compositional rigor and density. Frankly,
      Woodson's music is the most intricate rock-related music I've ever
      heard alongside Cheval de Frise and Yowie and it makes Blast and Henry
      Cow seem like simple catchy tunes, which is a point in their favor and
      I'm sure many listeners will actually object to the utter lack of
      catchiness and tunefulness here. Giant leaps of creativity will always
      leave some in the dust, though. On the back cover of this disc we find
      the rather uncommon warning and/or boast "THERE IS NO IMPROVISATION ON
      THIS RECORD". Of course, music with zero improv has been common for
      about a century now, but it's not a gimmick. The fact is that this
      kind of instrumentation and kinetic sensibility is very rarely used
      outside of a partial improv context in one of the many postmodern
      variations on integrating post-jazz soloing and rehearsal-based group
      movements, and Woodson's hired guns (Mat Fieldes, Aaron Stewart,
      Anthony Burr, and the truly brilliant John Hollenbeck) are quite
      representative of this fertile subculture. But Woodson's methodology
      and aims are much closer to academic composers hammering out endless
      permutations of conventional parameters (melody, harmony, and rhythm),
      but who rarely deal with the level of post-rock energy and exuberance
      that Woodson breathes as an electric guitarist rooted in the
      avant-metal underground of the 1980s (e.g. Watchtower). Note that his
      electric guitar playing is extremely restrained and uses a simple
      distorted tone with a minor bite; metal-phobes needn't be alarmed as
      there's nary a metal riff or reference to be heard. Further, his
      guitar doesn't assume a dominant or foregrounded role in the ensemble.
      In fact, a crucial characteristic of this music is the rare degree of
      equalization of foreground-background relationships among the five
      voices. There is also absolutely nothing resembling a solo on this
      record. Short-to-medium-length phrases continually enter and exit in
      all directions from each instrument in a severely anti-repetitive
      stream of unstable counterpoint. Curiously, despite its vigorously
      anti-improvisational provenance, the music appeals to me for a similar
      reason that I generally favor non-idiomatic free improvisation in my
      listening--there is such a density of information and split-second
      shifts in direction that the music feels like several independent
      layers of motion stacked in parallel, creating a constant feeling of
      ambiguous or indeterminate motion and a sense of intense perceptual
      demands as small thematic structures seem to fly by and barely elude
      my grasp. While Woodson doesn't explore most of the abstract
      parameters of musical organization routinely addressed in contemporary
      improvised music, he achieves this kind of abstraction in motion and
      phrasal boundaries that rivals my favorite improv and makes me
      delirious with joy. Overall, this second release by Woodson's Ellipsis
      project is very similar in content and quality to its predecessor
      released on Cuneiform five years ago, Control and Resistance, but let
      me explain the significance of this seemingly innocent observation:
      Control and Resistance has a guaranteed spot on any list of all-time
      top 30 albums I might make!!! So you can understand that Woodson's new
      platter of miracles is by far the most highly anticipated release of
      the year for me. I'm pleased to report it comfortably lives up to my
      hopes. Fans of Beefheart, Zappa, Berne, Ferneyhough, Braxton, Bang on
      a Can, Dolden, and any RIO music really should hear this and/or the
      first Ellipsis disc. -Michael Anton Parker
    • StoOdin101@aol.com
      In a message dated 7/1/2005 12:40:17 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, michaelantonparker@gmail.com writes: Rich had never heard anything by Henry Cow, Blast,
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 1, 2005
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        In a message dated 7/1/2005 12:40:17 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
        michaelantonparker@... writes:

        Rich had never heard anything by
        Henry Cow, Blast, Tipographica, etc when he made his first album. He
        checked that stuff out after the reviews mentioned it. He arrived at
        his music through a totally different and original path.


        .
        .
        .
        He's a Charles Wuorinen fan...I'm sure that helped him along! I can't
        imagine anyone who likes Henry Cow or Blast not liking Wuorinen's work as well,
        'cause you're looking at the same sort of thing:extremely complex "maximal"
        music with an audible connexion to the great classical composers, but in no way a
        pastiche.

        Unfamiliar with Wuorinen? I recommend about anything written since -- and
        including -- the Two Part Symphony of 1979. Imho, he turned some sort of
        stylistic corner at that point and went from clever academia to genius. Specific
        works to start with: New York Notes, Genesis, Five, The MIssion of Virgil (only
        available in its two-piano version; I'd _kill_ to hear the fully
        orchestrated work!), Trio for Bass Instruments. I haven't heard any of the Haroun
        Songbook yet, derived from his recent opera "Haroun and the Sea of Stories"...



        np: Runaway Totem - Pleroma







        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "Just as there are CAT people and DOG people, it is a fact of the cosmos
        that there are DALEK people and CYBERMAN people. Sooner or later, you have to
        choose. "


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Greg Newton
        There s also a nice CD of Wuorinen works on the Tzadik label including On Alligators, Fourth String Quartet, Natural Fantasy, and Third Piano Concerto. All
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 1, 2005
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          There's also a nice CD of Wuorinen works on the Tzadik label including On Alligators, Fourth String Quartet, Natural Fantasy, and Third Piano Concerto.
          All very good and well-recorded like just about everything else on the Tzadik label.
          Greg Newton
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: StoOdin101@...
          To: avant-progressive@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 6:36 AM
          Subject: Re: [avant-progressive] new Rich Woodson album




          In a message dated 7/1/2005 12:40:17 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
          michaelantonparker@... writes:

          Rich had never heard anything by
          Henry Cow, Blast, Tipographica, etc when he made his first album. He
          checked that stuff out after the reviews mentioned it. He arrived at
          his music through a totally different and original path.


          .
          .
          .
          He's a Charles Wuorinen fan...I'm sure that helped him along! I can't
          imagine anyone who likes Henry Cow or Blast not liking Wuorinen's work as well,
          'cause you're looking at the same sort of thing:extremely complex "maximal"
          music with an audible connexion to the great classical composers, but in no way a
          pastiche.

          Unfamiliar with Wuorinen? I recommend about anything written since -- and
          including -- the Two Part Symphony of 1979. Imho, he turned some sort of
          stylistic corner at that point and went from clever academia to genius. Specific
          works to start with: New York Notes, Genesis, Five, The MIssion of Virgil (only
          available in its two-piano version; I'd _kill_ to hear the fully
          orchestrated work!), Trio for Bass Instruments. I haven't heard any of the Haroun
          Songbook yet, derived from his recent opera "Haroun and the Sea of Stories"...



          np: Runaway Totem - Pleroma







          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          "Just as there are CAT people and DOG people, it is a fact of the cosmos
          that there are DALEK people and CYBERMAN people. Sooner or later, you have to
          choose. "


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Michael Anton Parker
          [Stoodin] He s a Charles Wuorinen fan...I m sure that helped him along! I can t ... [MikeP] I listened to a few discs of Wuorinen stuff the other year
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 1, 2005
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            [Stoodin] He's a Charles Wuorinen fan...I'm sure that helped him
            along! I can't
            > imagine anyone who likes Henry Cow or Blast not liking Wuorinen's work as
            > well,
            > 'cause you're looking at the same sort of thing:extremely complex "maximal"
            > music with an audible connexion to the great classical composers, but in no
            > way a
            > pastiche.

            [MikeP] I listened to a few discs of Wuorinen stuff the other year
            specifically because he was such an influence on Woodson, but I found
            it too bland and MOR to justify my attention. However, I'm reserving
            any judgements until I hear the stuff you recommend, the stuff on
            Tzadik, etc. I have a feeling I simply chanced to sample some of his
            weaker work and I'm too lazy to dig up what it was at the moment....

            Mike Parker
            SE Pennsylvania

            np: Harris Eisenstadt _Ahimsa Orchestra_

            The best way to predict the future is to invent it. --Alan Kay
          • StoOdin101@aol.com
            In a message dated 7/1/2005 10:32:27 AM Eastern Standard Time, gnewton1@rochester.rr.com writes: There s also a nice CD of Wuorinen works on the Tzadik label
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 1, 2005
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              In a message dated 7/1/2005 10:32:27 AM Eastern Standard Time,
              gnewton1@... writes:
              There's also a nice CD of Wuorinen works on the Tzadik label including On
              Alligators, Fourth String Quartet, Natural Fantasy, and Third Piano Concerto.
              All very good and well-recorded like just about everything else on the Tzadik
              label.
              Greg Newton
              I have the Third Piano Concerto release on Nonesuch from the 1980s, coupled
              with THE GOLDEN DANCE. The ballet's recording has been rereleased on Albany,
              while the Piano Concerto on Tzadik is the same as the Nonesuch recording.
              However, I've got none of the stuff coupled with the rerelease, and I've heard that
              Wuorinen has remixed/mastered and greatly improved the quality of the sound.
              It could sure use it. He did the same for the Tzadik release of the electronic
              piece TIME'S ENCOMIUM; I'm told that he _really_ despised the Nonesuch lp
              release in the 70s, but I haven't heard the remixed/remastered version.


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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