Saturday, 16 January 2010

ROBERT SCHECHTMAN – Moons And Ancestors


Robert Schechtman (1939-2002) - a professor at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University until an untimely death caused by a heart attack - was a prolific yet unrecorded composer, his work influenced both by minimalist tendencies and high spiritual standards. Once again, the good people at OgreOgress come and remove the shroud of our ignorance from a hitherto mysterious figure, Moons And Ancestors being another ear-catching chapter in the label’s unpretentiously essential saga.

“Ancestral Songs”, performed by Paul Austin (horn) and Gregory Crowell (organ) at the same time involves and leaves perplexed through a mixture of inscrutability and melodic straightforwardness sounding unquestionably unique – in that there’s no available comparison – but with a lingering sense of doubt that lets one wonder, at times, whether the composition’s influence is somehow limited by its simple traits. The music’s timbral combination and beautifully resonant qualities push the needle of choice towards positive reception at last.

Except for “Jitterbug”, a polite but not overly absorbing variation on a classic boogie, the 34-minute cycle “Water From The Moon” - entirely played by Christina Fong on an amplified violin – comprises the best sonic matter on offer: obstinately graceful, poignantly evocative, traces of inquietude vaguely disrupting otherwise unperturbed inner visions. Drawn-out single notes, faintly dissonant geometries and gradually arching figurations succeed amidst moments of protective hush and suspended progression. Fong applies her exemplary talent and impressive precision to scores that, listened at the right moment, are capable of influencing the listeners’ ephemeral disposition, rendering them conscious – if only for a few minutes – of that inexplicable prescience clutching a sensitive being’s mind, often more concretely linked to impending life events than we realize. This is particularly valid for the really splendid “Siren Songs”, alone worth of owning the record.

“Variations On The Huang Chung Of The Eleventh Moon” – interpreted by the ensemble Ethnoeccentric - is a variegated piece that doesn’t lack anything as far as technically appealing incidents and sheer virtuosity are concerned; yet, sporadically, it comes across as less stirring when compared to the rest of the album, its polymorphic density occasionally hiding the profoundness that seems to intensely characterize the other pieces. Nevertheless, the three-way conversation of percussion, piano and strings remains totally efficient, the near-perfect instrumental balance dissipating any latent reservation about the commitment of the involved parties.