November 19, 2011

Playlist Week of 11-19-11

Sleepthief - The Madness of Crowds

* Buxtehude: Seven Sonatas, Op.2 (Holloway/Mortensen/ter Linden) (Naxos CD)
* Biber: Unam Ceylum (Holloway/Mortensen/Assenbaum) (ECM CD)
* Biber/Muffat: Der Türken Anmarsch (Holloway/Mortensen/Assenbaum) (ECM CD)
* Ravel: Piano Works (Queffélec) (Virgin Classics 2CD)
* Debussy: Chamber Music (Athena Ensemble) (Chandos CD)
* Feldman: Rothko Chapel/Why Patterns? (California EAR Unit, et al.) (New Albion CD)
* Lachenmann: String Quartets (Stadler Quartet) (NEOS SACD)
* Dusapin: String Quartets (Arditti Quartet) (æon 2CD)
* Sonny Clark Trio: The 45 Sessions (Blue Note—Japan CD)
* Sun Ra: Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA, Dec, ’75 (AUD CDR)
* Sun Ra: Live At Montreux (Inner City/Universe 2CD)
* Ronnie Boykins: The Will Come, Is Now (ESP-Disk’ CD)
* Bill Dixon Orchestra: Intents And Purposes (RCA-Victor/International Phonograph CD)
* Bill Dixon: Bill Dixon In Italy Vol.I (Black Saint/Soul Note CD)
* Bill Dixon: Bill Dixon In Italy Vol.II (Black Saint/Soul Note CD)
* Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House: Anti-House (Intakt CD)†
* Ingrid Laubrock Sleepthief: The Madness Of Crowds (Intakt CD)
* Muddy Waters: Folk Singer (Chess/MCA/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Sly & The Family Stone: There’s A Riot Goin’ On (Epic/Sundazed LP)
* Grateful Dead: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Holland 5/10/72 (GDP/Rhino 4CD)
* Grateful Dead: Grote Zaal De Doelen, Rotterdam, Holland 5/11/72 (GDP/Rhino 4CD)
* Grateful Dead: Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA 2-24-74 (SBD 4CDR)‡
* Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Live At The Fillmore East 1970 (Reprise DVD-A)
* Pink Floyd: Obscured By Clouds (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: Animals (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: The Wall (Pinkfloyd/EMI 2CD)†
* Golden Palominos: This Is How It Feels (Restless CD)†
* Golden Palominos: Pure (Restless CD)†
* Guided By Voices: “We Won’t Apologize…”/”The Unsinkable Fats Domino” (Matador 7”)
* Robert Pollard: Space City Kicks (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Circus Devils: Capsized! (Happy Jack Rock Records LP)
* Radiohead: Kid A (Capitol CD)
* A Perfect Circle: Mer De Noms (Virgin CD)†
* A Perfect Circle: Thirteenth Step (Virgin CD)†
* A Perfect Circle: eMOTIVe (Virgin CD)†
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise CD)†(‡)
* Mastodon: The Hunter (Reprise CD)†
* Ray Lamontagne: Trouble (Stone Dwarf/RCA LP)



Of all the weird and wonderful CDs I picked up while in New York, there’s one in particular I keep coming back to: Ingrid Laubrock’s latest Sleepthief record, The Madness of Crowds (Intakt). The trans-national trio of the German-born Laubrock on saxophones, British pianist, Liam Noble, and American drummer, Tom Rainey was formed back when Laubrock was living in London and their eponymous CD, released in 2008, was, in a way, her breakthrough album, garnering near-unanimous critical praise. Shortly thereafter, she moved to New York, to be quickly assimilated into the burgeoning downtown jazz scene and where her unique sound and wide-ranging versatility found a welcoming home. And she keeps getting better and better: last year’s Anti-House (also on Intakt) is one of my very favorite records of all time. But whereas the Anti-House band showcases Laubrock’s knotty, genre-splicing compositional voice, Sleepthief is pure improvisation, non-idiomatic and free. As their first album amply demonstrated, these musicians are masterful improvisers, but The Madness of Crowds takes it to a whole other level, beyond technique and style where the music seems just inevitable and true. This music invites—no, demands—repeated listenings, rewarding the ear with its spirited and boundless creativity.

It helps that the sound quality is astonishingly good. Most modern jazz albums are adequately if indifferently recorded, naturalistic in affect but usually sounding somewhat flat and dry. But The Madness of Crowds sounds shockingly vivid, almost hyperreal. Rainey’s bass drum is HUGE, Noble’s piano occupies a solid, three-dimensional space and when Laubrock comes in, it sounds like she’s standing right there in the room with you. Wow! Recorded by Andrew Taub and Ben Liscio at Brooklyn Recording and mixed and mastered by Andrew Tulloch at The Blue Studio in London, The Madness of Crowds has been given the kind of high-class treatment this music truly deserves. Ultimately, free improvisation is all about sound for its own sake, from the quietest of subtleties (as when Laubrock blows bubbles in a goblet of water on “You Never Know What’s in the Next Room”) to the most aggressive cacophony imaginable and it is accordingly difficult (if not impossible) to capture the magic of live performance on disc. The Madness of Crowds is that rare thing: not only a masterpiece of improvisational music but an audiophile spectacular. Seriously, it needs to be heard to be believed. Record of the year!

1 comment:

Sam said...

High praise, Rodger! I hope to hear some of this over the holidays...

Here are my lists for last week:

Playlist 2011-11-21:

*John Cage: 2007-09-28: Milano Musica Festival, Event 5 (Cage/Druckman?Riley/Adams) CDR
*Muhal Richard Abrams/George Lewis/Roscoe Mitchell: 2008-08-17 Antwerp (CDR)
*Anthony Braxton & the Wesleyan Tri-Centric Orchestra: 2011-04-25 Middletown, CT (CDR) disc 2
*Anthony Braxton Small Ensemble: 2011-04-27 Middletown, CT (CDR) disc 1
*Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1967 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 1) discs 1, 3
*Charles Mingus: Cumbia & Jazz Fusion (side 2)
*New Loft: 2011-10-26 "Later Treatment" (wav)
*Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra: "Eight Frames for N Soloists and Spectral Continuo" 2011-06-04 Off the Grid 3, Silver Spring MD (wav)
*Sun Ra: 1975-12 NEC, Boston (CDR)
*Henry Threadgill: Makin' a Move
*Antlers: Burst Apart
*Dirty Projectors & Bjork: Mount Wittenberg Orca
*East West Blast Test: Popular Music for Unpopular People
*Fela Kuti: Original Sufferhead/Power Show "Power Show"
*Grateful Dead: 1972-05-25 London (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: 1972-08-21 Berkeley Community Theater (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: 1972-08-27 Veneta, OR (CDR) "Dark Star > El Paso"
*Grateful Dead: Dick's Picks 36 (Philadelphia 1972-09-21) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: 1972-10-23 Milwaukee (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Jimi Hendrix Experience: Winterland (discs 3, 4)
*Zach Hill: Face Tat
*Elvis Presley: The Complete '68 Comeback Special (disc 4)
*Prince: For You (Homemade Deluxe Edition)
*Prince: Prince (Homemade Deluxe Edition)
*Prince: The Dawn (boot CDR) disc 1
*Prince: Emancipation (disc 2)
*Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped
*Tad Thaddock: Bumpy Munch
*Tad Thaddock: Cakes and Cold Cuts
*Various artists: Doob Doob O'Rama: Filmsongs from Bollywood

Reading List 2011-11-21:

*Abrahams, Peter. Delusion (started/finished)
*Abrahams, Peter. Oblivion (started/finished)
*Lambert, Philip. Inside the Music of Brian Wilson (finished)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 2 (in progress)
*Borges, Jorge Luis. Selected Poems, 1923-1967 (in progress)
*Bradbury, Ray: Bradbury Stories (in progress)
*Bride of Dark and Stormy, compiled by Scott Rice (in progress)
*The Complete Shock SuspenStories (EC) (in progress)