Monday, November 24, 2008

Badass of Contemporary Composition: Kitty Brazelton

Kitty Brazelton is a strange bird, straddling the chasm between mannered art song and listen-to-my-amp-hum out rock, at least on the What is it Like to Be a Bat album listed above. The songs here travel through ragged wires until they find a short and they explode in a shower of sparks, further complicated by cavernous tape delay and slam-bam rock/jazz drums. Positively frightening music. There is a bit of the crone-holler of Carla Bouzilich up in this, but Hazelton's approach is harder, more contained, sharper, and ultimately more devastating.

Even in the more subdued confines of her chamber music showcased by the California EAR unit on Emergency Music (lala), there is a bit of the powderkeg waiting impatiently for the spark. In R, the trumpet twitters and honks like a bird, not a Platonic birdsong bird, but a real bird - reptiliian and a little panicked but still in a fuller physical awareness than the human listening to it. This same is true of the more jazz-informed pieces: Sonar como una tromba larga would not sound completely out of place in a brass band repertoire, and Sonata for the Inner Ear is almost coffee-house ready in its worldly ambiance, with just enough pull from the expected to keep it interesting.

Somewhere in between the rabid bat and the barsita counter lies her sweet spot, as exhibited in this performance with SONYC, String Orchestra of NYC

Here is an NPR piece on her (opens up the mp3 directly)

And dig her crazy website! It sparkles!

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