Tania Chen, Danielle DeGruttola, Henry Kaiser, Soo-Yeon Lyuh, William Winant — Megasonic Chapel
((Not on label) no cat #, 2015, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-05-01While one probably won’t find this on any top 100 charts in this or any other universe, Megasonic Chapel is a single 80-minute improvisation, very subtle, shimmering and beautiful, never harsh or abrasive, in fact at times one might even forget that it’s on it gets so quiet, yet it functions just fine as background music for the listener who doesn’t want to focus on it, yet if one chooses to focus there are a lot of exciting and emotional moments, with subtle evolutionary transitions that link one section to the next. There are no indexes, this is one long track, though some indexing might have helped the listener find certain parts a bit easier. Though guitarist Henry Kaiser is the most recognizable name here – and I’m sure he had a major hand in making this recording happen – every player gets many chances to shine throughout, and at any given moment some subset of players is at the forefront, with others supporting. Kaiser is primarily playing a 13-string acoustic harp guitar and a six string acoustic bass, but at several junctures he’s playing a variety of electrics as well, including a wonderful distorted and effected slide freakout at around the 45-minute mark. Tania Chen is a pianist who contributes subtly but very importantly throughout the entire improv, providing shimmering melodic fragments, while cellist Danielle DeGruttola wields a formidable bottom end to the sonic spectrum. Percussionist Willy Winant is probably the least heard among all the players here, his contributions tend to be very subtle accents that tend to hide behind the other instrumentalists, although there are some exceptions. By far the most interesting element is the Korean traditional haegeum, played by Soo-Yeon Lyuh – two silk strings over a hollow wooden soundbox and mostly played with a bow, similar in some ways to the Chinese ehru. Though for most of the duration it’s residing low in the mix, there are several points (including around the 60 minute mark) where it’s featured very prominently, and some others where Lyuh and DeGruttola both lead with their bowed strings together. All taken, Megasonic Chapel is something that must be heard to be appreciated; I can write about it for hours, but will be no closer to describing what the listener will hear – there’s really nothing else one can compare it to.
Related artist(s): Henry Kaiser
Roswell Rudd RIP – Jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, one of the distinctive players of his instrument in many strains of music, has died at the age of 82. With a career stretching back to the early 60s and over a hundred recordings featuring his playing, he leaves behind a substantial legacy. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. » Read more
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more