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Altrock Chamber Quartet: Sonata Island Goes RIO

Spearheaded by flautist and composer Emilio Galante, Altrock Chamber Quartet approaches its debut effort, Sonata Islands Goes RIO, with a lot of ambition and specificity considering that its only instruments are flute, piccolo, clarinet, violin, and cello. A tribute album or sorts, half of its ten songs are reinterpreted takes on popular RIO compositions, while the other half come from European composers like Fred Frith (and Galante himself, of course). Although the pieces feel distinct, charming, and meticulously crafted, many listeners may find their repetitiveness to be downright bothersome. Like all chamber music, Sonata Islands Goes RIO will appeal to a very limited audience.

The album starts out with three Fred Frith pieces: "Snake Eating Its Tail," "Norrgarden Nyvla," and "Hands of the Juggler." All three of these exude plenty of intricacy and personality, as they're fun, colorful, and dynamic. However, they're also quite avant-garde, which means there's a fair level of strangeness too. Elsewhere, Univers Zero's "Présage" proves to be the lengthiest and most interesting selection, as its melodies, chaos, and alternating intensity gives it a respectable amount of momentum. As for Galante's two contributions, "Rethinking Plague" and "Distillando," both make good use of circular riffs and warm woodwinds. The rest of the album feels quite similar.

Sonata Islands Goes RIO will surely delight fans of chamber music (and various other takes on classical). Its focus is sharp and its musicianship is perfect; however, like a lot of this type of music, it can feel extremely tedious and stagnant after awhile. For the most part, each one of these songs is about 3x as long as it should be, as they rarely earn their duration. Still, the quartet must be given credit for staying true to its vision and motivation.

Track Listing

1. Snake Eating Its Tail
2. Norrgarden Nyvla
3. Hands of the Juggler
4. Rethinking Plague
5. Présage
6. Land Arf
7. Brachilogia7
8. Distillando
9. Crossroads
10. Luoghi Che Aspettano

Added: April 13th 2013
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Official Site of Emilio Galante
Hits: 1788
Language: english

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