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Johnson, Lucien: The Night's Plutonian Shore

The Night's Plutonian Shore, the brainchild of New Zealand born saxophonist / composer Lucien Johnson, along with drummer Anthony Donaldson leading a group of musicians who go by the name of The Village Of The Idiots, is a wild and eclectic musical ride inspired by the works of writer Edgar Allan Poe. Johnson who divides his time between New Zealand and Paris and has been involved in composing music for various multi-media projects, silent films and contemporary dance productions, turned his focus towards Poe for this record which in 2008 was also performed live in concert as well as filmed for DVD.

While The Night's Plutonian Shore naturally doesn't offer the listener the complete experience ( I think one really needs to experience both the music and the visuals together to get the maximum impact of this dynamic production), the music contained here contains enough dramatic theatrical elements, and musical fireworks to give you a good idea of what this project is all about. With Johnson's unique and often quirky arrangements leading the way (all executed perfectly by the Idiots), this is one tribute I'm certain that Poe even if he was still alive would never have expected.

The music takes elements of jazz, opera, the obscure film soundtrack, even circus themed music and blends it to perfection in one big melting pot, producing one hell of an entertaining and not to mention diverse listening experience. Johnson's ensemble of players includes a vibrant sounding horn section that features a couple of trombonists and a trumpet player, while he covers tenor & soprano sax, flute, clarinet and organ. The mad circus like atmosphere which permeates the music also includes Chris Palmer's expressionistic vocal work as he recites various passages from the Poe oeuvre. His readings are a bit over the top at times, but hey this is drama don't you know.

The Night's Plutonian Shore is extremely varied from beginning to end and definitely won't disappoint listeners who are seeking something that's a bit more adventurous and isn't afraid to think or step outside of the box so to speak. I know that for this reviewer, if anything the music here not only whetted my appetite to experience the other half (visual element) of Johnson's unique musical vision, but also to keep an ear out for this talented young composer's future musical endeavors as well. Nicely done.

Track Listing
1) The Tell-Tale Heart
2) Murder's In The Rue Morgue
3) The Bells
4) The Masque Of Red Death
5) Descent Into The Maelstrom
6) The Golde Bug
7) The Raven
8) The Pit And The Pendulum
9) Dream Within A Dream
10) The Black Cat
11) The Conqueror Worm
12) A Premature Burial

Added: January 25th 2009
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Related Link: Official Lucien Johnson Website
Hits: 2080
Language: english

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