The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores
total time: 74:57
Bratko Bibic (Hohner Tango piano accordion)
I don't know how often you'll hear a critic say this, but before I begin, let me share a lesson I already knew. Namely, that however praising or damning the most intelligent sounding review can be, it is only an opinion. Subjective, wrong or right, it is limited to the 1 person who wrote it and his limited experience in a very big world. I'm sorry we have this power. I wish a disclaimer could go before every review from now until the ozone gives out.
Now for my opinion: The eerie first strains to "Altered Landscapes: Part One" make me wish there were a Part Two in here somewhere. This song sets the tone for the traditional, the dark and needy air for an album which soon becomes a delight to your ears. The 6/8 (or is it 3/4?) begins churning butter then at an astonishing rate, breaking out into a fine opening feel-good piece. But it has its dark moments as well, building, swaying, stepping over your foot kindly.
"Wave Hill" is rather repetitious for me, but I appreciate the lilting mood, imaging myself on some shrimp schooner coming into the bay, seeing the lighthouse for the first time after many moons. Well. Any response is a good response. Even anger gets you personally involved.
Otto Lechner's "3/4 Suite" seems, to me, to start off as an exercise in minimalism, complete with distorted vocals without words. Other stand out tracks in this good value 75 minute cd include "Cirkus II", a rather jazzy funk with a cardboard box beat. "Ellin Polkka" I would call a modern twist on the ever crowd pleasing polka, in which Maria Kalaniemi shows off her finger skills while not running around Too much.
Bratko Bibic's quiet "Jane" has a latent power, though for some of it I'm reminded of an old jazz war-horse that falls on the piano keys, then continues that tradition for the next hour to show that that's the way he meant to play all along. The barking vocals come into it during the last moment of the song, much like a medicine man's chant to cure arthritis. But then, if I knew everything, I'd be out Doing everything instead of stuck inside typing up this inference.
I prefer some of the ensemble pieces best, perhaps because of the larger sound, as in "Inte Quanta", which begins as a dance that isn't going to happen. Then someone yells, and (Insert reviewer's whistle), you've got yourself a farm dance complete with bubble-snapping spontaneity. As it is, Bratko Bibic, Lars Hollmer, Maria Kalaniemi, Guy Klucevsek, Otto Lechner pick or write their music in happy or somber spirits enough to make this an album with universal appeal that doesn't deserve just to rest in the World Music racks of only the Large city stores. All from live concerts around Europe, producer Lars Hollmer had to select 75 minutes out of 50 hours of music. And a fine job he did, too.
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