The Science Group — A Mere Coincidence
(ReR Megacorp SCIENCE1, 1999, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2000-10-01Yugoslavian composer Stevan Tickmayer has worked extensively in the fields of 20th Century music (both composed and improvised) and jazz. For this project, he takes a collection of texts by Chris Cutler on various subjects relating to science, and sets them to music, which is performed by Tickmayer himself (piano, keyboards, zither, violin, guitar, samples), Cutler (drums, electronics), Amy Denio (vocals), Bob Drake (bass, vocals, guitar, drums), Fred Frith (guitars), and Claudio Puntin (clarinet, bass clarinet). Bob Drake produces and contributes one composition. The music is marvelously disjointed and complex, full of abrupt shifts in tempo and mood, ranging from delicate acoustic passages to throbbing electric dissonance. Amy Denio provides serene interpretations of Cutler’s rather unusual words, sounding surprisingly like a choirboy. This collection provides another viewpoint on the style originated many years ago by Henry Cow and Slapp Happy, lately advocated by 5uu’s and related groups. It also shows just how close complex rock (or “pop” as Tickmayer prefers to call it) can come to “serious” 20th Century music of the academic (or even snobby) sort. The prime difference is one of instrumentation. Take these compositions and arrange them for strings and winds instead of guitars and keyboards, and perform them in a symphony hall on a bill with Cage or some other modern master, and no one would think anything is amiss. But use – gasp! – a drum kit and an electric guitar, and you’ll be quietly escorted to the stage door. Ranting aside, this is a fascinating collection of unique sounds, truly a great addition to the careers of all involved.
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 $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more