Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I came to edge of the world

I came to The Edge of the World in search of Cornelius Cardew, whose Mountains opens this odd duo record for bass clarinet and keyboards. Cardew was the staunchest of minimalists from what I understand, wanting to strip music of all its bourgeoisie adornment and let it hum with the masses. This line of thinking eventually led him to call the whole art music gig an imperialist sham and he did what all disslusioned inllectuals did - he started writing propaganda folksongs about Mao. Mountains is a lyric, airy hop, as if the clarinetist is basing his pitch on hte jagged line of a mountain range (Cardew was one of the early champion of interpretive graphic scores, so it is not inconceivable that this is precisely what is going on here.) By whatever means, it is lovely thought-provoking music but it is keyboardist Christopher Hobbs' Seventeen One-Minute Pieces that has me beguiled. Perfectly ordered polite minuatures not dissililar to the cocktail chamber music of Evan Lurie, informal to the point of using the built in tempo settings, leaning between artful scales and saccarine jazz, reminding me of the future minded Laurie Anderson and David Van Tiegem music of the early 80's with the patina of that music somehow slyly discarded. Beach Boys jolly one minute, Gershwin slinky the next, a perefct way to start out the day.

As for Morton Feldman, I really love his atomized compositions, where sounds floats like dust in the ether, sometimes combining in seemingly incidental harmony, sometimes spinning off orphaned from any continuum. It's the kind of music that would drive a normal person completely crazy, but to me it sounds so alien because it is actually what the world sounds like all the time. I was driving around at lunch doing errands with this collection booming from my car stereo, well, as much as one can "boom" Morton Feldman, and it seemed to be ordering the dull chaos of construction sites and traffic signals into a beautiful loose harmony. I came to the edge of the world, and founding it sitting there, twittering away, right where it always is.

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