Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Maria Finkelmeier, MF Dynamics, Descended


Once again I am glad to write about an album I probably would never had gotten in the pre-review days yet turns out on detailed inspection to grow into an unexpected flower pot of good things. It is one of those not-so-easily classified offerings, so much so that I had to think a minute to decide where the review article belonged. 

The album is by marimba-percussionist Maria Finkelmeier and her MF Dynamics doing Descended (Bright Shiny Things BSTC -157). She further describes the project in the subtitle as Exploring the Supernatural Legacy of Lafcadio Hearn through Sound, Light and Story. It features Maria on marimba, electronics, toy piano, voice, melodica and percussion, Jean Laurenz on trumpet, voice and auxiliary percussion, Greg Jukes on drums, accordion and auxiliary percussion and then Buzz Kemper doing the spoken word/recitation.

And thinking as I listened it has something in common with the influential and superb group Oregon--in that it gives us "music of another present era." It puts to our ears a musically contentful kind of New Music that is like a Folk Music of its own. There is tonality, there is a winding and wonderful sense of rhythm, there is a pronounced presence of inventive line weaving. There is from what my ears tell me improvisation now and again but it is the sculpting of compositional movement that seems key to how this music unfolds for us.

Like in the case of Oregon there is no confusing what happens on each piece with New Age--there is ambiance, for sure, but everything within that framework transcends a heightened lyricism in itself for something a good deal more profound, more musically well wrought, well worked through, with a loose togetherness of the improvisatory element but a tightly structured whole, too. She conceives of the music as taking place inside a thematic performance art totality. There are elements of Jazz, Afro-Caribbean, club music, electronics and "primal cathartic vocalisms." And it all works together nicely so you get a convincing chain of musical sections  that total up to a listen that stays in the mind and satisfies the need for something truly new.

Ms. Finkelmeier teaches at Berklee College of Music, one of my alma maters. Is it ironic that the music she makes is like what I and some other fellow students back then dreamed of making? No, it is fitting that she does. It is some of the music of now, after all. A very rewarding batch of such things. Kudos.

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