| One promising band from the 1990s tells its story of getting stuck in the no-man’s-land between the Christian music market and a wider market
by Emily Belz Posted 6/12/19, 04:04 pm
The drummer, bass player, and guitarist from the punk rock band Luxury sat at a hotel bar in New York, laughing over some ridiculous Meat Loaf T-shirts someone handed to them in Times Square. They ordered ginger ale, cranberry juice, and water.
“That’s a weird set of drinks,” said Glenn Black, Luxury’s drummer.
| A dive into Poe, a new project for Parsons, and a classical compendium
by Arsenio Orteza Posted 5/30/19, 02:44 pm
With The Hermetic Organ, Vol. 6: For Edgar Allan Poe (Tzadik), the experimental multi-instrumentalist John Zorn has taken one of the strangest headlong plunges of his long and prolific career. Not that there’s anything strange about the concept. The Google site “Poe in Music” identifies 30 previous instances of musicians’ having drawn inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe.
The pleasures of these intimately observed vignettes are primarily verbal—“You travel your whole life / just to get out to the place you’re gonna die” is a real attention-getter. But the murky mix gives up details too—soulful horns, keening organs, telltale heartbeats. The stakes reach their peak in “Grant at Galena,” in which a modern-day Ulysses S. fights a losing war of ontological attrition. The connection between that warfare and the cover art remains implicit. But that cross is a real attention-getter too.
| Four harp albums will leave listeners wanting to hear more
Arsenio Orteza | 5/13/19, 10:20 am
In the popular imagination, few musical instruments have become more closely associated with Heaven than the harp. It’s a conception to which the latest releases by Anneleen Lenaerts, Helene Schütz, Rachel Talitman, and Vanessa Gerkens—their primarily secular intentions notwithstanding—pose little if any threat.
| The Invisible Light carries with it a lot of required reading
Arsenio Orteza | 5/09/19, 12:55 pm
A lot of learning may not be as dangerous as a little learning, but in the case of The Invisible Light: Acoustic Space (Verve)—the experimental new album by T Bone Burnett, Jay Bellerose, and Keefus Ciancia—it can certainly be prohibitive.
The universal emotions at their core are why the songs on this 1967 recording are called “folk” songs. Her voice and the way that she used it are why Shirley Collins is called a “folk” singer: Unafflicted by vibrato or exemplary breath control, she sounds as common as a miller’s daughter, albeit one whose sister has mastered the rudiments of the pipe organ. The tacked-on four-song EP that brings this reissue’s track total to 20 proves that Collins used her voice the same way in 1963.
On April 1, The New York Times published a story titled “‘Blurred Lines’ on Their Minds, Songwriters Create Nervously.” It detailed the anxiety besetting pop composers in the wake of recent plagiarism lawsuits in which courts have sided with the plaintiffs and thereby lowered the burden of proof to the point that almost any song might be actionable.
And, despite its publication date, the story was no joke.
| Passion oratorio assumes and rewards an intelligent and patient audience
Arsenio Orteza | 4/11/19, 03:25 pm
Gabriel Jackson’s The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is not by any means an “easy” work. Irregular rhythms jostle with mercurial dynamics. Orchestral instruments respond to the calls of operatic soloists who soar and dip amid or atop choral vocals. Sounds begin in mimesis and end in abstraction. Form yields to content, adapts, then yields again, creating phantasmagoric effects.