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Scratchy Monsters and Laughing Ghosts




Stephen Vitiello
and David Tronzo

Long Walk (for a Slow Loris); Red; Hum a Little, Mr Bones; No Ehru



New Albion Records
NA 127 TT: 58 mins







These "dual improvisations" from San Francisco for electronics (Vitiello) and slide guitar (Tronzo) "involving files, loops, mixes and mailings", with Michael Schumacher piano (not the racing driver), make for the most interesting CD of unusual contemporary music that has come our way since Madeleine Isaksson's Chamber Music from Stockholm.

Hard to categorize or describe, the music is gentle and gradually insinuates itself upon your attention; ideal to play when a little tired, maybe reading the paper at first as we were, or even as a background to quiet conversation (heresy?). Soon we found ourselves listening more carefully, and realised that it is far from minimalist. The tracks play continuously and make for a good hour of music which is not minimalist and not jazz. It grows and becomes more complex, but never loud or abrasive, nor bland and soporific. The most striking sounds are probably those produced from 'slide guitar' (of which I'd not become aware, so probably I shouldn't be trying to review this CD). These musicians, very much of today and tomorrow, are of the kind that in UK is represented by the intriguing and challenging releases of Unknown Public - if you know their offerings you'll have a fair idea what to expect; if not, click on my link above, and think about exploring their catalogue.

I shall try to get someone more knowledgeable to add to this, but meanwhile am happy to point off-(American)-shore European music explorers to this example of West Coast innovation. New Albion Records is an enterprising, small company which prepares carefully only a few discs for release each year; we have previously reviewed their examples of Lou Harrison's music.

© Peter Grahame Woolf