Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christopher Campbell, Sound the All-Clear

Composer Christopher Campbell and six other musicians do something on Sound the All Clear (Innova 750) that, while not being brand-spanking-new in concept, is done very musically and convincingly. They create 12 vignettes, some short, some in the ten-minute range, that use a variety of instruments to create a sound that incorporates world and home-made elements into an aesthetically vibrant whole. Alan Sondheim did something like this on several albums in the sixties and the DIY tradition continued with such outfits as Iowa Ear Music in the seventies and some other ensembles up through to today as well.

What matters is that Campbell and company do it very well. There are brilliant, ever-shifting sonorities on this set that put the music very much above the pale. A plethora of traditionally nontraditional playing techniques and the guiding conceptual hand of Maestro Campbell make for a most lively program.

This is my kind of music: world-encompassing, transcendent, free yet structured, dynamically varied and, well, post-pre-post in outlook. It looks ahead by going back to a stubborn American outsider tradition spanning Ives' experiments, Partch's exotically alien universe, Lou Harrison, Henry Brant, Sondheim and the rest. Campbell goes back in order to go forward. His music doesn't really sound like any of those forebears. It IS a very interesting example that carries on the neo-non-traditional-tradition of those fore-fathers (and some fore-mothers too).

Viva Christopher Campbell and this music!

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