Film In Music
great album which exhibits many qualities: a melodic dimension which sounds
fresh and surprisingly accessible, though it incorporates a degree of
"hidden complexity" that at times becomes apparent; a fine timbral
palette which shows great variety thanks to a clear recorded sound that's never
fatiguing and which invites listeners to turn the volume knob to the right; an
"ensemble" dimension that gives ample space to soloists while at the
same time integrating them into the whole fabric of sound.
was quite surprised to see that the leader of the line-up called Film In Music
is none other than Peggy Lee, the Canadian composer and cello player who for a
long time now has been one of my favourite musicians.
had liked the most recent album released by the Peggy Lee Band, Invitation
(2012), the same being true of the song cycle Beast To Bone (2014) released
under the name The Sands, an album for which Peggy Lee composed the music.
Tale gives us a welcome update. We find musicians who are frequent contributors
on Peggy Lee's albums: Ron Samworth on guitar, André
Lachance on electric bass, Dylan Van Der Schyff on drums; also Jesse Zubot on
violin; there are also names that are new to me: Kevin Elaschuk on trumpet, Chris
Gestrin on (mostly, electric) piano (the album also features an uncredited
synthesizer), Torsten Muller on double bass.
Compared to the octet which appears on Invitation, the new line-up
has fewer winds, more strings. We see an electric and a double bass appearing
side-by-side. Also, having three string instruments that can be played arco -
double bass, cello, violin - makes it possible to change the colour of a melody
by changing the "weight" of each in the unison mode. Let's not forget
that Dylan Van Der Schyff is a drummer who has always highlighted the
"high-sounding" portion of the drums, i.e., cymbals, to great effect.
With Ron Samworth's guitar providing both melody and colour, with
a use of the wha-wha pedal that's quite unusual today, Kevin Elaschuk's trumpet
- besides playing a few fine solos - makes it possible for Peggy Lee the
composer to make great use of her "device" of combining trumpet and
cello, a combination that's one of the sonic signatures of her compositions.
Chris Gestrin's electric piano - which to me sounds like a vintage
Fender Rhodes, which often sounds like it's being filtered through a ring
modulator - acts as a kind of "pedal"-"propulsive" device,
also performing fine solos that could be labeled as "fusion", in the
"electric" Hugh Hopper meaning of the tag.
Produced by Dylan Van Der Schyff and Peggy Lee, the album was
recorded by Eric Mosher - a familiar name for Peggy Lee's albums, whose work
equals good sound quality - at Warehouse Studio, Vancouver. Mixing and editing
work by Dylan Van Der Schyff at the usual Zio Uovo. This time, we also have a
"mixing manipulation", which with "rewiring" work
(something which is not clear to me), and (fine) mastering was done by Jesse
Zubot at his usual Britannia Beach Bunker.
At about 56', the album features seven pieces composed by Peggy
Lee and five pieces - in solo, duo, and trio - that I suppose were improvised
and which I assume are here in order to make for a more rounded picture. It was
especially on the latter tunes that I appear to detect those "sonic
By now, readers have more than enough information. Let's have a
quick look at those pieces.
A Turn Of Events is the fine opening number: the group "tunes
up", then an arpeggio on the Fender Rhodes in the right channel, doubled
by a guitar arpeggio in the left, gives way to a melody which reminded me of
Wayne Horvitz in his President period. Fine mix of trumpet, cello, and violin.
There's a "lyrical-sounding" trumpet solo that reminded me of Mark
Charig-Kenny Wheeler, and a fine, ever-changing, multitimbral backdrop.
Loyalties starts with a more "noisy" air, bass, cymbal
to the fore, then there's a melody for trumpet, cello, and violin sounding sad
and mournful. Fine snare drum, a trumpet that reminded me a bit of Lester
Bowie, drums, it leads to
Gruesome Goo, a double bass solo that - thanks also to those arco
harmonics - appears to show the ex post sound work, especially at the end of
Egg Hatched is an episode for trio - Gestrin, Lachance, Samworth -
with the guitar fading in, a bell-like synth sound, echoes, the sound of a
filter opening, a ring modulator, all combining to create a kind of abstract,
Wild Bill features a piano opening with a long solo episode with
halo-effects playing an arpeggiated circular figure, then it cuts to the
electric piano, then it's time for a leading melody played unison by trumpet
and cello. Fine drums, played brushes on snare drum and cymbals, also bass,
guitar, and violin are featured.
Epilogue To Part 1 starts with snare drum, cymbal, bass, and a
rhythmic figure by the electric piano. Melody by trumpet and cello in unison
mode, then there's a guitar solo with wha-wha that's vivacious. Fine cymbal
work. Then it's back to the bitter-sweet sounding theme.
An Eyeball For Dan is a long and varied episode for drums and
percussion where I seemed to detect some ex-post work. It starts with (what to
me sound like) cymbals played arco, maybe through effects-slowed down. Nice
coupling of cymbals with phasing, "deep" sounding bass drum, and
Ensemble starts with a melody in a "dancing" tempo,
featuring violin, cello, guitar, very fine cymbals, then the trumpet, in a way
I was reminded of Carla Bley, but with different instrumental colours, the
electric bass solo reminding me of Steve Swallow, beautifully dressed by
trumpet and strings.
Dangling W is an ever-changing violin solo, sounding quite
A Walk Through Town starts with electric bass, cymbal, then a
theme for strings and trumpet, at first sounding tense, then it
"relaxes" with great lyricism. The rhythm section goes "double
time", strings coming to the fore. An "Hopper"-like moment, the
electric bass backing the trumpet, then comes the electric piano. In closing, a
fine, lyrical, theme.
Nagging Doubts is a duo of "opposites": a
"pointillistic-sounding" electric piano on the left, the cello played
arco with long notes on the right.
Finale: God's Laughter And A Parade starts with a piano arpeggio,
ride cymbal, bass. There's a fine theme for trumpet and strings. Then, an
electric piano solo through a ring modulator in the right channel and the
electric guitar with wha-wha on the left, with excellent cymbal work. The
rhythm section accelerates. The song - and the album - ends with a light-sounding
theme for strings, like on the end credits to a movie.
© Beppe Colli 2017
CloudsandClocks.net | Feb. 7, 2017