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Curha — II
(Bandcamp Chant Records CR2003CU, 2020, CD / DL)

Curha — 3
(Bandcamp Chant Records CR2209CU, 2022, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-12-24

II Cover art3 Cover art

I reviewed the first volume of Curha music back in 2018, and as of this writing, there are two more. Curtis Hasselbring continues his winning streak of quirky, lighthearted mostly-instrumental music that treats genre boundaries as mere curiosities of interest only to lesser mortals. Conjure up a metaphorical musical blender, and stuff that baby with The Residents, “Telstar,” tropicalia, Shugo Tokumaru, Bill Nelson’s poppier solo work, vintage TV soundtracks, vintage video game music, and jazz. Toss in a bit of anything else you’ve got lying around while you’re at it. Then hit “purée” and make sure not to hold the lid on the top so the contents can fly around the room. You have the symbolic equivalent of a Curha album. II came out in 2020, and actually features a few tunes with vocals. Hasselbring also invited a few guest musicians to contribute here and there: Dan Rieser (drums), Aaron Diskin (tambourine), Brandon Seabrook (guitar), Peter Hess (bass clarinet), and Alec Spiegelman (bass clarinet), each of whom plays on one or two tracks. (“Two bass clarinetists?” you might ask. Have you never heard a bass clarinet? One is never enough!) Curha himself plays trombones, guitars, samples, and synths, as well as singing and programming rhythms. This music is super groovy, in both the musical sense of having catchy rhythmic patterns and in the 60s sense of being really cool. Curha 3 is a 2022 release and continues the winning streak. This time out, the guests are Jeremy Brown (violin), Eblis Alvarez (guitar, bee noise), Peter Hess (bass clarinet), and Doug Wieselman (baritone saxophone). One thing that Curha has is spades is a knack for taking esoteric musical ideas and manifesting them as accessible and entertaining vignettes. Cleverly overlapping figures come together to create catchy beats, and childlike melodies collide with chaotic, atonal interruptions. I suppose it’s possible that I might someday grow weary of Hasselbring’s little gems, but that day seems remote, and the very nature of this music guarantees that each track is different, while the underlying aesthetic is constant. These albums are little slices of joy in the often serious world where we live, and joy should always be welcome.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Curtis Hasselbring (Curha), Brandon Seabrook

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