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Finnegans Wake: The Bird and the Sky Above

The Bird and the Sky Above is the sixth release from the Belgian avant-garde band Finnegans Wake. The band has been around since 1993 and their latest CD features their newest member Markus Stauss on bass sax. The rest of the lineup includes Alexandre Johnson (G-flute, flute) , Henry Krutzen (tenor sax, piano, percussion) and Marcilio Onofre (piano) with Darlan Marley (drums) and Antônio de Pádua (trumpet, slide trumpet). Krutzen is the only original member remaining in the band.

The album's title refers to the life of one of our fine feathered friends; different stages of a bird's life if you will. A pretty bizarre concept but nowhere near as bizarre as the music contained within. This is as dissonant an album you are likely to hear, as free form avant-garde jazz seems to be style of choice. That said, there are bits and pieces of composition here and there but melodies are hard to discern, at least to these ears. Just as birds are free to fly where the wind takes them, these seven musicians are free to explore whatever abstract musical territories their muse moves them. The end result is an experimental work, heavily guided by improvisation that is not easy to grasp, even after a few listens.

The Bird and the Sky Above starts with the aptly titled "Still Dreaming" beginning with melancholy wind instruments before more dissonant tones creep in. The percussion flutters in and out and at times the instruments build up and clash in a cascading wave of dissonance. As our bird is getting ready to fly, strange sounds and the tinkling of piano can be heard in the experimental "First Flight", a song even more unusual than the last. Wild drum patterns and discordant bursts of sax and trumpet twist and turn keeping the listener guessing as to where the music will go next. The short "Walking on the Ground" is almost all drums and percussion, very sporadic and spontaneous. A more relaxing picture is painted with flute and sax at the start of "Stealing on the Picnic Table" before a cacophony of sound takes hold before returning to a more peaceful soundscape. Chaotic surges of dissonance continue throughout the piece. The album ends with the calming "Infinite Background", a piece more structured and less busy than the previous songs.

Those who are interested in free form and experimental jazz will want to check out The Bird and the Sky Above. If you are unfamiliar with the genre you should probably proceed with caution as this one is not so easily consumed.

Track Listing:
1. Part 1: Still Dreaming (5:42)
2. Part 2: First Flight (9:31)
3. Part 3: Walking on the Ground (2:18)
4. Part 4: Stealing on the Picnic Table (7:43)
5. Part 5: Dark Clouds (13:17)
6. Part 6: Infinite Background (5:52)

Added: October 11th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 2952
Language: english

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