Music

CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Pat Mastelotto, The Unthanks, Colin Stetson

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pat Mastelotto
Recidivate
((p)atco)

Fans of Mastelotto as a drummer/percussionist in King Crimson, Mr. Mister, XTC and Stickmen (with Tony Levin and Marcus Reuter, coming to the Iron Horse April 25) will likely also enjoy this collection of mostly instrumental tracks. It's clearly inspired by the beats, guitar tones and digital or tape loops that are the midichlorians of those musical Jedis' lifeblood, and the bulk of the material embraces odd times, arpeggiated Eastern melodies and sonic caresses. The 42 songs on Recidivate's two CDs, split thematically into "Traps" and "Buttons," were mostly produced in the prolific player's home studio. There are some tracks with vocals, and even some dusty remixes of unreleased Crimson/XTC and other material that conjure 1978 Bowie and the ghost of Frank Zappa. —Tom Sturm

*

The Unthanks
The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons Live From The Union Chapel, London: Diversions Vol. 1
(Rough Trade)

On their third album in three years and first live release, sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank tackle two sets consisting of material written by fellow English artist Robert Wyatt and Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons fame. Recorded at the Union Chapel in London during back-to-back sold-out nights, the disc is a "warts and all" affair with the occasional audience cough or police siren clearly audible. Despite the inclusion of such intrusions, the record remains a lushly recorded document that shines brightly in the glow of the sisters' warm voices. Though often cast as reinterpreters of folk music, they prove adept at harnessing the melancholy of Hegarty tracks. While takes on Wyatt's material never reach the same heights as the original, the nearly seven-minute "Sea Song" is a slow-building stunner. —Michael Cimaomo

*

Colin Stetson
New History of Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
(Constellation)

New History of Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is the best ambient techno solo sax album you've probably never heard of (even better than Stetson's first, New History of Warfare). Playing mostly baritone and alto sax, Stetson (Arcade Fire, TV On The Radio, Tom Waits, Bon Iver) picks up where Rahsaan Roland Kirk left off. Where Kirk played a multitude of horns simultaneously, Stetson plays one at a time, employing impressive breathing techniques and an array of "24 different mic positions" ("no overdubs or looping," according to his website) to achieve an astonishing, otherworldly sound. "Judges" sets the groove, as Stetson lays down a pulsating bari sax bass line, then breathes the haunting melody. He's joined by guest vocalist Laurie Anderson on "Lord I Just Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes." And on "The Righteous Wrath of an Honorable Man" Stetson turns up the tempo, breaks out his alto and crushes listeners' expectations as to what a saxophone can do. —Pete Redington

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