Eighth Blackbird have been playing together since
1996 and by their 'fruit' you know that they are a well integrated
This grab-bag of modern
pieces dating 1989-2006 reflects the vitality and variety embraced
by this enterprising group of musicians.
Jennifer Higdon's Zaka is a fantastic sprint full of irresistible
Stravinskian energy and rhythmic drive.
Gordon Fitzell's Violence is more brusquely modern with Pendereckian
wails and shuddering tremors and sighs all encased in a shrouded
dream of violence presented in a recording of stunning immediacy.
Stephen Mackey's Indigenous Instruments is in three movements
where all the other pieces are in single spans. Mackey is closer
to Fitzell than Higdon but there is some of vital grammar to
the piece which is dominated by fragmentation, reiteration of
motifs and a panoply of Daliesque melting as well as grumbling,
rumbling and chittering. The second movement is more placid
rather than rattling with activity. The finale is engaging
with jazzy little interjections and hints of minimalist germs
as well as chants and chatters in Stravinskian echoes that find
their origin in the Symphonies of Wind Instruments but
with cooler romantic streams casting benediction from Coplandesque
David Gordon's Friction Systems which starts and ends with
the brawling of machines, melts centrally into a dark-realmed
refraction of the Dies Irae. This is dark and fascinating
stuff that is well worth hearing.
Fitzell has the honour of a second piece. Evanescence
is alive with electronic contrivances and effects as well as
the 'natural voices' of the instruments. It ends with the emulation
of an electronic alarm.
Finally we have Strange
Imaginary Remix by Dennis DeSantis with clipped synthesised
electronic sounds and samples, plunking, breathing, Hammond
echoing and chiming in urgent patterns streaming across the
page and the listener's attention. Parts of it sound funky;
down and dirty.
then, perhaps kicking against current trends towards tonality
legato melodics, but if this style is to your taste the DeSantis,
Higdon, Gordon and parts of the Mackey are especially well
see also review by Dominy Clements
Further details at: https://www.cedillerecords.org/094.html