Thursday, 21 April 2011

Mini Review: Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges + R.I.P. Gerard Smith

Colin Stetson is a highly talented, highly experimental saxophonist, and aside from vocal contributions from My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden and spoken word in the form of the ever-ominous Laurie Anderson the entire album is made up of Stetson’s bass saxophone, covered with microphones inside and out, and with the tracks recorded in single takes with no overdubs. The results are astonishing and unique in equal measures, and show Stetson’s immense skill as both a composer and instrumentalist, in part owed to mastering the circulatory breathing technique. The cover shows rampant horses and are a good pictorial representation of the sounds achieved: menacing bass-end flourishes of notes; short percussive taps from the mic’d instrument’s keys; anguished, primal screams; sounds of running water, etc. The depth of the instrument’s tone and the stark reverb, and also Anderson’s lines create a really dark, powerful, warlike atmosphere which the title suggests. Such skills have earned Stetson a reputation and is now highly sought after, and he has worked with a diverse group of musicians as Tom Waits, TV on the Radio, the final LCD Soundsystem shows, and will also feature on the new Bon Iver album. Cynics may call this gimmicky but the music has a real, unique style of songwriting, and Stetson’s efforts really need to be seen and heard to be believed.

Speaking of TV on the Radio, yesterday a statement on the band's website that bassist and keyboardist Gerard Smith has lost in the struggle against lung cancer was posted. Sympathies go out to the rest of the band and Gerard's family and friends. Gerard was a highly valuable member of the band and made a great contribution to music, and he will be missed by many. TV on the Radio's latest album Nine Types of Light was released on the 11th of this month and was on the Mini Reviews list but never surfaced. As we've now reached the end of this feature for this month tomorrow I will post a full review of the album as a tribute. Below check out TV on the Radio's visual accompniment to the album, and a Live on Letterman 40-minute performance recorded just last week.

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