Music Reviews

Artist: Laurence Crane / Asamisimasa (@)
Title: Sound Of Horse
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
I guess the John White, quoted in the title of the opening extended suite "John White In Berlin" (composed in 2003), is the English experimental composer and performer, who invented the so-called systems music, the British branch derived from American minimalism, as the seeming stasis of the track, vaguely reminds the style of that John White: one of the most amazing feature of this suite for electric guitar, cello, piano and percussion is the slow succession of almost looping similar chords on flute and piano over a likewise almost motionless reverberating sound (supposedly derived by the slow brushing of cymbals), which seems unpredictable just when listeners think he'll predict its slow procession by truncating phrases or changing the primary instrument just whenever a phrase is close to its supposed end. This first composition unveils some of the features of its author, the London-based composer Laurence Crane, whose unpredictable but placid compositional quirkiness got masterfully performed by avant-garde-oriented Norwegian ensemble Asamisimasa. The sudden end of the short "Old Life Was Rubbish" (a short composition for open instrumentation, dating back 1998, performed by Asamisimasa using an electric guitar, a piano and a bass clarinet) sounds like a rude awakening that interrupts a lovely dream, just when it was going fine) and a similar bittersweet aftertaste gets evoked by the sudden vanishing of the lulling instrumental voices (a cello, a clarinet and an electric organ) that feed the daydreaming suite of the following "Riis". According to some reviewers of Laurence's music, this sort of humorous "castration" (someone could nicely consider him a cheeky bastard!) could get explained by a typically English way of being. Similarly some suitably English manias and an enjoyable self-mockery resurface along the funny three parts of "Events", a suite for three clarinets, a vibraphone and a voice, who sings about a series of facts related to 7th February 1997, the day when it was composed (a list of people, their age and profession celebrating their birthday on that day in the first part, a selection of foreign exchange rates and a list of places and their weather conditions at 12 AM on that was raining in Bristol...) and the unpredictable rages of crazy rockish explosions in a typically chamber music suite in 7 parts that give the title to this amazing collection. The choice of such a bizarre title - "Sound of Horse" - has a double meaning, as it refers to both the place where the idea behind the piece was conceived - Horse is the name of a sound (a stretch of water) in Scottish Highlands nearby the Coigach Peninsula - and the sound that guitarist Mick Ronson sometimes made by his instrument. According to Laurence own words, "on a few occasions during Mick Ronson's work with David Bowie in 1970-73, he made his guitar sound like a horse's 'neigh', most notably on the song 'Time' on the LP 'Aladdin Sane'"....and we all know how English gentlemen love horses!

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