Various Artists — Unsettled Scores
(Cuneiform Rune 75/76, 1995, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:
How often is it that one can find a double-CD set where every song is a winner? Most various artist sets will typically have some good, and some not-so-hot stuff, but this long awaited compilation of Cuneiform artists covering other Cuneiform artists defies all those usual rules. Indeed, both discs – clocking in at over an hour each, offer solid performances from beginning to end. Nearly all of the Cuneiform stable is represented here, and then some, either as players or writers, or both. Perhaps it works so well because the material being covered is, in many cases, a powerful influence over the artists who perform it; take, for example, Happy Family's cover of Daniel Denis' "Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dance," or Phil Miller's cover of Hugh Hopper's "Meccano Pelorus," both are natural pairings in the composer / performer sense. Similarly, when Kit and Coco cover a Muffins tune, or Forrest Fang covers Piero Milesi, the resulting interpretation comes off more like a fusion of the styles of both artists. There are exceptions, though: Virgil Moorefield's cover of a grungy Henry Kaiser number, or Philharmonie's version of "Transsiberien" originally by Miriodor are things one might not expect, yet both work remarkably well. There are some real nice surprises here too: Doctor Zero (a lineup featuring members of Doctor Nerve, Univers Zero, and Rascal Reporters) doing "Onde Crepseculaire," a Univers Zero track never recorded or performed, but given new life here. It won't surprise me a bit if this turns up on a lot of people's 'best of '95' list. This may, in fact, be one of the best compilation albums ever recorded.
by Dan Casey, 1996-03-01:
Various artists compilations don't get much better than this. From what started as a joke four years ago, comes the long-awaited double disc release of Cuneiform artists covering other Cuneiform artists. Kit Watkins does The Muffins, Happy Family does Daniel Denis, Miriodor does a Univers Zero medley, Djam Karet (not technically even a Cuneiform artist) does Pinhas, just two name a few. A whopping 25 tracks appear and almost every single one is a gem. The arrangements differ significantly from the originals, sometimes even changing the moods of the pieces. An old partially-recorded Univers Zero track has been appended with recently recorded parts from Doctor Nerve, resulting in one of the album's most unusual and fascinating tracks. The entire project exemplifies the excellent variety and cutting-edge music of the Cuneiform label as a whole. With each disc topping the one-hour mark, there is so much music here that everyone will certainly have different favorites, but there is undoubtedly something for everyone (unless all you are interested in is symphonic or neo- prog). A remarkable achievement, kudos to Steve Feigenbaum for undetaking what must have been a massive effort. The rewards are evident, and this aptly-titled release speaks for itself. Perhaps the finest various artists compilation of new music to ever hit the scene. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a contribution from Daniel Denis.
by Mike McLatchey, 1996-03-01:
Five good reasons to buy Unsettled Scores. 1) Doctor Zero, a combination of Univers Zero and Doctor Nerve musicians and their version of "Onde Crepseculaire." Originally penned by Guy Segers for Univers Zero but not released, the track is a testament to the fact that even Univers Zero's rejects were still phenomenal compositions. 2) Remember when Djam Karet were a rock group? Yeah, it has been a while, and this track, recorded just before Chuck Oken left the group, reminds me of how great they were in their heyday. Their cover of Richard Pinhas' "Dedicated to K.C." is every bit as good as the original. 3) Miriodor's "Promenade sous Zéro," not really a "cover" but a medley of Present's "Promenade au Fond d'un Canal" and Univers Zero's "Combat" and "Heatwave." A brilliant little medley played by superb musicians, Miriodor show why they're one of Cuneiform's best. 4) Kit Watkins and Coco Roussel's modern version of the Muffin's "Hobart Got Burned" has at least as much energy as the original and the duo do major justice to an already great piece of music. 5) Happy Family's ripping cover of Daniel Denis "Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dance." Sounds more like Univers Zero than the original did and shows why this may be Cuneiform's best new band of the year. Actually there are 21 other reasons but we didnt't want to dedicate an entire Exposé to what may be one of the most inventive original concept compilations ever released. Bravo, Mr. Feigenbaum!
Related artist(s): Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Forrest Fang, Hugh Hopper, The Muffins, Djam Karet, Mike Henderson, Dave Kerman, Phil Miller, Chuck Oken, PFS, Richard Pinhas, Present, Happy Family, Coco Roussel, Kit Watkins, Gayle Ellett, Jim O'Rourke, Virgil Moorefield, Forever Einstein, Miriodor, Philharmonie, U Totem, Doctor Nerve, Peter Frohmader / Nekropolis, Bernard Falaise, Henry Kaiser, Various Artists, C.W. Vrtacek (Charles O'Meara), Marc Wagnon
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