|Bone Collector||Johanna Beekman||4:58|
|Stolen Grace||Johanna Beekman||3:31|
|Bad Night||Johanna Beekman||1:18|
|On My Own||Johanna Beekman||3:15|
|Medea's Lament||Johanna Beekman||3:57|
|What You Want||Johanna Beekman||4:32|
|Cloak of Fire||Johanna Beekman||3:44|
|Thin Ice||Johanna Beekman||3:13|
|Dear Cathy||Johanna Beekman||4:56|
|Back to the Sea||Johanna Beekman||4:14|
The Sonata meridional and several other compositions by Mexican composer Manuel Ponce are staples of guitar recitals, but here's a release that takes you a bit deeper into the circumstances under which Ponce's guitar music took shape. Ponce, who went to Paris for studies with Paul Dukas, enjoyed a long, creative partnership with guitar pioneer Andrés Segovia, furnishing most of his guitar works (and all of those heard here except the short Appendix Variations from Cabezón used as interludes) for concerts in which Segovia played them as premieres. The Sonata meridional is a compact, exceptionally attractive fusion of impressionism, Spanish rhythms, and counterpoint, with the latter a bit more emphasized in the readings of Montreal guitarist Patrick Kearney than in Segovia's own performances.
Kearney includes works that show other facets of the Ponce-Segovia partnership, including the sinewy Thème varié et Finale, a technically difficult piece, probably the most harmonically adventurous of the set, and not at all the pleasant salon work the title might imply. Even more interesting is the Suite in A minor, written for a concert in which Segovia was appearing with violinist Fritz Kreisler. The violinist at the time was composing and performing a long series of hoax Baroque works, and, according to annotator Kevin Manderville, Segovia wanted to play a joke on Kreisler by beating him at his own game. Ponce complied with a pleasant five-movement Baroque suite that the pair passed off as a work by Bach's contemporary Sylvius Leopold Weiss. Segovia later played the work, without identifying its composer, for Heitor Villa-Lobos, who pronounced it an authentic Bach suite. Ponce's piece sounds more like real Baroque music than Kreisler's forgeries, although the voice leading is replete with things that neither Bach nor Weiss would ever have created.
The whole topic of exactly what audiences of the 1920s thought they were hearing in such works is worth further investigation; Ponce's little rarity, at any rate, sheds new light on the question and rounds out an interesting program. Kearney himself was involved in the production; perhaps it was he who caused the ATMA label's engineers to forsake their fascination with cavernous Montreal church spaces in favor of a studio that captures his quiet, detailed playing extremely well.
Notes are in French and English.
This is one of Mother Gong's strongest and most representative efforts, albeit a little late in the group's classic period. The lineup includes Robert Calvert (saxes), Conrad Henderson (bass), and Robert George (drums and percussion), in addition to the nucleus of Gilli Smyth and Harry Williamson. Recorded in part during Mother Gong's 1991 tour of America and in part in an Australian studio, Tree in Fish offers a good balance of space poetry and groovy instrumentals. Smyth's effect-drenched voice takes center stage, but the musicians are left ample room to breathe. "Wilful Housewife" and "The House Is Not the Same" (the latter with brilliant lyrics by Henry Normal) remain among her best performances from that era. This album's strength resides in its free-flowing, spontaneous-sounding track list hiding carefully scored tunes. Tracks like "She Smiled" and "Cafe Reflections" keep things ethereal and improvised, framing more precise songs into a single album context -- a feature that is lacking on the group's other records.
Spitfire Records would have you believe that Welcome to the Western Lodge is the brand new album by the ubiquitous Chris Goss and his rambling, intermittent project Masters of Reality. It is the latest offering by this "band" of one and whomever he gets to play with him. But it was originally released in the U.K. and Europe in 1999. In this case the Masters are a two-piece with John Leamy playing drums, keyboards, and bass, while Goss plays guitar, "sings," and does everything below except play drums. Welcome to the Western World has all the trappings of being a concept album except the lyrics to line it up. It's a kind of slow, plodding, thud-thud-thud hard rock with terrible vocals and big guitar riffs. There are also some "psychedelic" keyboards thrown in for measure and electronically altered sci-fi vocals.
Ugh! Once upon a time, about 15 years before this album, the Masters of Reality were a badass rock band with the audacity to do Cream covers. Hell, they even had Ginger Baker join them for a time. But that was long before this tired, moronic, sleep-inducing yawn that passes for rock & roll. One of the biggest problems is production -- which is weird. Goss, who has produced three Kyuss records, Queens of the Stone Age, Ian Astbury, and more, knows what he's doing. He also understands self-indulgence. Given that this is so, these tried -- and tried, and tried -- heavy rock riffs with this muddy sound don't get it at all. It's not worth singling out any track for praise because, in truth, they're all pretentious and, basically, they all suck. What a huge disappointment.