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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Ryan Teague
Six Preludes
Type Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


May 24, 2005
Six Preludes is a clutch of wraithlike compositions: opalescent, layered tapestries of tremulous strings and swathes of muffled thumps projected on the mind's eye. Wrung through a hamper of oscillators, decays and other myriad effects, the works onset with lyrical violins mounting a steep hill of notes alongside bristly rasping electronics and wind-struck chimes, paying homage to Gorecki's Third Symphony. As electronics catch their breath, pulsing palms grimed with aural grit, a gust of dewy coral vocals blows breathe into the steamy strings like a mother's cord, pulsing life into the womb.

Such a piece marks the appearance of Ryan Teague, whose background in classical composition proves not a snare, but a point of departure toward future surpassing. This he brings about by not holding absolute ends, instead considering them in connection with the will that projects them. Hues of novelty, sensitivity in the placing of sound and its progression inhabit the fluid progression of events that bind these pieces together.

One frequently finds a baffling exuberance here, which showcases a faux-naif approach to sound making that is a real antidote to the sleek efficiency of most sample-based electronica. Teague often drops hints of melody through a heavy fog of fuzz, clicks, pops and hiss. Such delicate sheets of distortion make scattered bits of melody seem sweeter, brighter and more vivid. All the while, the harmonic, multi-layered motifs, which do still reference Steve Reich and Avro Part, are sometimes accompanying like song and other times seemingly commentating on exultation and progress. In this manner, Teague realizes classical composition as a personal way of communication that can, in another form, advance and be continued.

Compositions such as "II" illustrate a predilection towards corrugated noise, not merely as an end itself, but as a fundamental compositional tool. They infuse this works textural leanings with glassy blues and greens, still-wet watercolor chords and loveliness by way of unexpected contrast. At other moments, as on "V1", a slow dance of violin and cello comes to the fore. The instruments' reedy inhalations and exhalations are subtly layered into depth and steadiness, communicating calm. Now and again, pitch bending produces a shaky gulp of tender feeling.

Six Preludes is most effective when sustained high-pitched tones, thwacks and pings cooperate with, rather than succumb to, the well-aimed string arrangements that ventilate these structures. When this sense of tension is lost, as it is on "IV", the distinctive edges of this work are ground away and pieces become as exchangeable as coins. This is a minor quip, however, as Teague largely eschews this banality. Almost immediately, track five seems unnatural with sounds from percussive devices, clanking like the malfunctioning railway carriages of an underground mining shaft. The track, as most on this work, is wracked by muffled sounds of an Arctic gale, or the romantic underwater aura of Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic.

Purists may well wince at classical composition being shorn of the particularity of its project; but the past few seasons' change, despite all disgruntled dispositions, have witnessed a plethora of composers dabbling with artificial ingredients; Teague sharpens the synthesis of these two camps. On a label adorned with numerous works well worth thumbing through, Six Preludes is a low-key affirmation that ingenuity must go on.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer

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