Monday, March 13, 2006

Clogs / Lantern / Rating 8.2 / Guest Review by Enits

The Tuning Fork birthday celebration continues but regardless of out party hats and noise makers, this Clogs cd would have been passed along to Enits regardless. Sure I could fumble through some sort of review, approach it from a personal yet abstract angle but why not hit up one of my best friends who as you will find out as you read on, is more than qualified to talk classical music, or alt-classical music...whatever that is....than I.

Thank You Enits; the piece below is EXACTLY why you were the right person for the job.

I will say I can't believe PFM writer Raposa used the oldest music journalist line in the book In reference to Clogs' Lantern: "most fully realized" ; gag.

"Lantern is the most fully realized version of Clogs' aesthetic, seamlessly mixing their musical reference points-- classical, European folk, post-rock-- into a unique sound. "

Unclassifiable is what my i-Tunes spits out at me when I put in Clogs' new album “Lantern.” Thank you apple for making this review a bit easier to write. Before even plunging into this record I unfortunately read the one sheet provided to me by Pitch Perfect. Damn labeling and all that it entails. You see, I love music and have some education in the field; supposedly that’s why I got this disc to review. After spending some 9 years toiling in the halls of a university the scholars, as they like to call themselves, let me out into the world with a graduate degree in classical performance. Does this mean that I’m going to perch myself up on a soap box and wax about everything that’s not classical about this alleged “alt-classical” record? Hell no...Why? Because I don’t give a damn what we classify Clogs.

Upon listening to the first track i was already see, I’m a classical guitarist by trade and guest Luca Tarantino provides an nice intimate rendition of a piece by renaissance lutenist Johann Hieronymous Kapsburger. I could go into a review track by track, but i won’t...David Raposa does a moderate to good job describing Clogs' record. yes, there are references to classical ensemble pieces and folk, and post-rock...(sure, I don’t even know what post-rock really means...after the rock? Can you still rock if it’s post-rock?). Again, this is all just beautifully executed music from four musicians who met at Yale University while completing their master’s degrees. Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner got the brilliant idea to create a group from different backgrounds who could improvise yet be able to read written music if it was put in front of them. And Clogs are born. Yeah! (seriously...yeah!)

Four records later and you have “Lantern” and my first introduction to the band. This record takes you on a journey through bare classical quartet ensemble (guitar, violin, bassoon, and percussion) to new age type pieces that are drenched in electric guitar washes and dyslexic percussion to grand simplistic folk forays. I don’t even know where to begin for me to expel my kudos to these four musicians.

. The mad hatters jazz fusion race with the bartok inspired violin melody of “5/4” to the brilliant juxtaposition of odd meters clashing without you even knowing that the floor is moving underneath you in “2:3:5.”

. The use of a Schubert melody that puts you into a 1930’s Piazolla niteclub in “Death and the Maiden” where the piece crescendos to such a high that you can only imagine the dancer/maiden collapsing from exhaustion at the end.

. Getting to the title track in the middle of this record to hear Newsome’s plaintive voice sing a sailor’s plea to finally see the lighthouse and go home.

. Or “Tides of Washington Bridge” which was originally a solo piano piece and finds itself reworked with the delicacy of ukulele, mandola, melodica, guitar, and piano. The original is found at the end and one can see how Newsome is fascinated with recycling and repeating melodies. Putting a piece within a different context of instruments can present an originally melancholy piece into a light with a shimmer of hope.

I can’t hear “downbeat” in this record and I’m not sure what Mr. Raposa is referencing here. Sure there are some quiet thought provoking moments, but if I wanted levity I would’ve gone to the Motley Crue show last night and sang a long to “Girls, Girls, Girls,” but alas I was snuggled up with Clogs and being taken on a journey through moments of jazz, classical, rock, fusion, and free improv.

I think that this band can and will make you think, but I also believe that they will have you feeling something within you that you don’t have to think too much about as well. I’m throwing the devil hands up in the air and giving Clogs a studious big ten.

p.s. I lied about going into a track by track sue me. It's my first time and I did leave a couple of tracks for you guys to ponder and research on your own. Take care and till next time...