Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Otto — Danses
(Circum-Disc microcidi027, 2022, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-06-14
Is Otto the youngster on the album cover with the old-school telephone? The answer to that question is not provided, but it is the name of this unusual grouping, the duo of drummer Frederic L’Homme and electric guitarist Ivann Cruz, both part of the Muzzix collective, and dedicated to creating a new spin on the music of the late baroque composer J.S. Bach, and I’m sure if Bach could hear this he would be doing somersaults in his grave. Cruz should be familiar to Exposé readers as a member of TOC, Circum Grand Orchestra, ADOCT, and several other groupings on the Circum-Disc label, and L’Homme is a member of the improvising unit More Soma. The back story is that Cruz learned many of these pieces — gigues, preludes, chaconnes, suites, and more, mostly written originally for lute and cello — as he was studying classical guitar in his childhood. A few years ago he decided to revisit one of the chaconnes, with electric and distortion, and drummer L’Homme on board. They liked their interpretation, so they continued on and recorded thirteen cuts in this first installment of what could well be an ongoing project. Regardless of what instruments they were written for, most of Bach’s music follows some general repeatable concepts, such that his compositions are instantly recognizable. I’m sure Bach had never even remotely imagined his lute music being played on an electric guitar with occasional full-on distortion, and accompanied by a drum kit, but it still works, and the pieces at hand, once they get going, are recognizable as such. What Cruz and L’Homme have produced here is a commendable effort, and it works splendidly, though with only guitar (in varying amounts of distortion) and drums the proceedings tend to get a little samey over the long haul, but interesting and engaging nonetheless.
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