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Monday, March 18, 2013

Mary Ellen Childs, Wreck

There are works that fuse genres and sound great, that grow organically out of the compositional setting and thrive as singular examples of music today, and there are those that fuse elements in various ways but remain merely interesting. Mary Ellen Childs' Wreck (Innova 844) ranks in the first category.

Wreck was written for a work by Carl Flink's Black Label Movement dance company. It portrays the last hours of the victims of a shipwreck, trapped, yet momentarily saved by being in a water-tight compartment of a sunken boat.

The music is written and performed for a chamber group of clarinet, violin, two cellos and drum set/percussion. The work has 18 short, interrelated movements that show a minimalist slant much of the time. When the drum set is playing in the ensemble there is a propulsion that gives it a jazz-rock/prog veneer that is quite attractive and memorable. The other movements range from ostinato-based to atmospherically soundscaped.

There is development and the incorporation of avant elements. It all no doubt suits the dramatic dance story as it unfolds.

What's important to those listening to the audio recording is that the music is very contemporary and convincing. It has a sound and melodic dynamic that sets it apart and should find favor with adventure-rock listeners as well as contemporary classical aficionados. In that way it is like some of the best Bang-on-a-Can works of the last decade.

The performances are very good, excellent in fact. Mary Ellen Childs has talent and originality. Recommended.

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