Exposé Online banner

Fred Frith — The Previous Evening
(ReR Megacorp FF1, 1997, CD)

by Rob Walker, Published 1999-01-01

The Previous Evening Cover art

Fred Frith has always been a very highly respected innovator and collaborator in various new music endeavors, and lately his talents have been sought out more and more for an ever broadening array of artistic projects. The three compositions comprising The Previous Evening, written between 1993 and 1996, were commissioned for a dance theater performance. Each piece is constructed as a sort-of tribute to a specific composer (John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Earl Brown), wherein Frith seems to acknowledge and utilize each composer's characteristic creative style in his own writing. These pieces are thus intriguing in the way they are identifiably Frith's, yet bear the cosignature of another giant of modern music. On the first and third pieces, Frith complements his own multi-instrumental collage of piano, guitar, violin, samplers, and effects with the occasional clarinet and percussion. These reappearing instrumental timbres help to give the overall work a familiar sense of form that counterbalances the different structural approaches of each of the three parts. The “Homage to Morton Feldman,” fittingly the longest piece (though thankfully not of the imposing scale of Feldman's multi-hour works) is a minimalist exploration of time, pitch, and the idiosyncrasies of a piano's attack and decay sounds. This solo piece is bookended by the abstract electro-acoustic constructions of prepared and performed sounds of “Homage to John Cage” and “Homage to Earl Brown." All three of these composers were associates and collaborators during the middle part of this century, and the concept of innovative graphical notations (giving the performer some degree of improvisational freedom) as an alternative to standard musical notation is a common thread running through their works. Thus while some of the elements Frith borrows from these composers are transparent to the listener, the compositional technique meshes well with Frith's sophisticated improvisational inclinations, and the end result manages to faithfully capture the voice of both the active and passive composers. As this work was conceived to be both an aural and visual experience, one wishes they could see the choreography that accompanied this music, but these pieces nevertheless stand firmly on their own without the visual enhancement. A challenging and adventurous work that is certainly not for the faint of heart, The Previous Evening adds an intriguing new element to Frith's substantial oeuvre of innovative and experimental music.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 16, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Fred Frith

Latest news

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Edgar Froese - Ages – I know what you may be thinking: Froese's parent group hit the skids ten years ago. But have no fear as Ages is a 1978 classic-TD-era release. So where's all the rejoicing? I feel pretty silly myself....  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues