Bill Frisell — Unspeakable
(Nonesuch 7928-2, 2004, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2006-05-01Bill Frisell’s first Grammy winning CD is a major achievement on many fronts. Frisell doesn’t blow you away like many other experienced guitarists — he is the cardinal of understatement, preferring to strum away along side or under a main theme be carried by violin or cautious percussion. As a composer his whimsy is seemingly stamped by a penchant to fuse John Barry stylish soundtracks with modern rhythmic approaches. The guitarist’s flair for the crafted embellishment is evident right from the start on “1968”. Acclaimed violinist Jenny Scheinman is a member of the string trio The 858 Strings alongside Eyvind Kang that supports Frisell’s mindset. “White Fang” pursues a funkier blues-based side of the guitarist work with Hal Wilner adding an infectious dance groove that doesn’t give way to wankery. The rhythm section of Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen provide consistent groove interplay. Another focal track is “Gregory C” that relies heavily on sampled cello to build a romantic backdrop for Frisell’s harmonics crossword puzzle and backwards tape loops. “D. Sharpe” is the most unfitting song in the set with its sour melody line and unsettling string intervals. “Old Sugar Bear” is the real oddity on the disk where an ambient pastiche is played on the foreground on top of rhythmic and melodic phrases that sneak and out of the mutable song structure before a strong 4/4 R&B vibe begins. Overall it’s the culmination of thirty years work that composer has come to terms with.
Related artist(s): Bill Frisell
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.