Though it's easy to mistake us for a bi-annual publication, we're in fact receiving transmissions year-round, nonstop. This Tuesday was the last of the month, which means we've unleashed a gaggle of musical miscreants that are surely now wandering the streets and record shops of a town near you- look out! Here's a roundup of what you can expect from this most recent batch of MODULATIONS picks:
Math lesson time- pens and pencils ready? OK, here we go:
Cello + Piano = [GENRE]
a) Chamber (Classical)
b) Javanese Gamelan (Hint- it's not this one)
c) Is this Jazz???
And the correct answer, 'C', pins the tail on ALEXANDER SULEIMAN + YOJO'S ATAVISTIC MUSIC: EXTREME JAZZ. We're certain that purists/traditionalists will contest this categorization, but we like this sort of controversy...
From our dear friends at INNOVA, Korean sonic-surrealist BORA YOON'S latest LP, SUNKEN CATHEDRAL is by all means a phonographic exercise in psychogeography (or 'Drift' for all ye situationists lurking out there), with each track corresponding to a unique inner-psychological landscape. C'mon, what are you afraid of- the deeply repressed, potentially haunting contents of your own subconscious impinging upon waking life?
Inspired by the lesser-known corners of BELL'S homeland and written entirely in her native Russian, Krai (New Amsterdam Records) is BELL'S (Dirty Projectors) second LP (available in both VINYL and CD editions) and first large-scale composition. Krai (край) is the Russian word for edge, limit, frontier or hinterland. Present-day Russia is divided into a myriad of 'federal subjects', including nine krais. In this capacity the term is a political designation, like 'territory', but for the earliest Russians these places represented both the promise and terror of the vast unknown While much has been written about Russia's major cities, OLGA BELL'S Krai is concerned with the rest of the map: the wilderness, the towns, the inhabitants and their stories.
In the Cohen Bros. recent cinematic essay on the 1961 Greenwich Village folk boom, "Inside Llewyn Davis," the titular protagonist quipped that "If it was never new, and it never gets old, it must be a folk song." Given that JULIA WOLFE amalgamated roughly 200 versions of the John Henry ballad to create the text for her new album, STEEL HAMMER (Cantaloupe Music), genre associations shouldn't be terribly difficult to pin down. Aside from constituting a love letter from WOLFE to Appalachia itself, STEEL HAMMER melds indigenous american folk traditions with the players (and instrumentation from) Norway's Trio Mediaval, as well as members of the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Instruments you will hear (among others) include: wooden bones, mountain dulcimer, banjo, and of course, clogging.
In 1984, MALCOLM MORLEY was the first Tate Gallery Turner Prize winner, despite his self-professed aloofness from the art world (then again, we too wouldn't be a part of any organization that would have us as members, either). Ambivalent toward his native Britain, he has long lived a reclusive life in America. It's impossible to label him a painter; he has always avoided association with contemporary schools and styles (= genre bender = we really like this), though he seems to have pioneered many...
Last, but certainly not least, behold: the great DON ELLIS. This documentary tells the story of one of the most innovative, yet nearly forgotten musicians of the 20th century. Ellis' career was marked by a multitude of accolades and distinctions including his trailblazing work in the introduction of electronics to the jazz idiom to a degree only rivaled by Miles Davis, as well as his possibly being the only person on the planet other than Frank Zappa to believe that 27/16 was a really groovy time signature. Including rare footage of Ellis himself, this film should be considered compulsory viewing for all jazz/experimental/electronic crossover/Abe Lincoln beard enthusiasts that might be lurking about...