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Clogs: Lantern

At turns less abstract and more accessible than Clogs' three prior releases, Lantern defines the possibilities of putting very big ideas into shorter forms, and then placing them well within reasonable reach of the listener. For the sake of context, and despite the fact that the pieces here are shorter, their expressive nature more direct and in many ways more approachable, at one end Lantern inhabits that terrain occupied by the likes of Kronos Quartet along with the more vigorous and languorous stretches in string pieces such as "The Last Days" and "Vita Nova" by Gavin Bryars with Rachel's, some moments from The Cinematic Orchestra and even something that might recall a few minutes of Rhys Chatham, carefully placed, at the other. But no real need to make comparisions: Clogs are clearly in possession of their own ideas, their own forms and their own style. This area of music, defining itself at the points around which traditional, new music and popular forms occasionally meet, seems especially promising now thanks to the way in which it distills the sometimes foreboding intricacies of late 20th and early 21st century compositional techniques by making those ideas and techniques accessible without simultaneously reducing them to merely simplistic 2-D impersonations. Clogs have a clearly lighter, more readily approachable touch that remains smart enough and dense enough to result in music that encourages you to think as well as feel. Their instrumentation is a little less than familiar: a (principal) combination of guitar (electric and acoustic), bassoon, violin, viola, percussion both typical and atypical and an occasional, fragile voice that coalesces to form Chamber Orchestra depth and range without the accompanying familiarity. The music embraces the controlled deployment of contrast, becoming alternately airy then dense, fast then slow, loud, louder, then soft and softer than sotto voce, in every possible combination. And, when compared to their earlier work, much more melodic -- just one example being some first-rate viola work, often exploring the lowest register of the instrument. Possessed of a wonderfully refined sense of proportion, there's nothing excessive, nothing stray. Even the more assertive passages refrain from indulging in overly ornate flourishes. Like all their work, the performances here exhibit tightly knit, precise, unsentimental, never needlessly difficult and still profoundly affecting ensemble playing with an ear that routinely extends beyond the instruments to pure and purposeful sound. If you are working to develop an ear for musical beauty as we define it today (not prettiness) harmonic complexity (not just major scales) rhythmic subtlety (not the Tyranny of Four) Lantern is here to light your way.

Track Listing
1) Kapsburger
2) Canon
3) 5/4
4) 2:3:5
5) Death and the Maiden
6) Lantern
7) Tides of Washington Bridge
8) The Song of the Cricket
9) Fiddlegree
10) Compass
11) Voisins
12) Tides (Piano)

Added: July 30th 2006
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: Clogs Website
Hits: 2217
Language: english

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