Monday, August 9, 2010
Gene Pritsker's Sound Liberation Ensemble
We can be thankful that we do not live in a homogenized musical world right now. In many ways anything goes. If you look for it you can find innovative hybrids sporting just about any combination of stylistic traits you can imagine.
Gene Pritsker's Sound Liberation is a great example of this, in particular his new recording Varieties of Religious Experience Suite (VRE Suite) (Innova 235). It's Pritsker on electric guitar plus a second electric guitarist, cello, contrabass and drums. It's an instrumental suite from his opera William James - Varieties of Religious Experience.
Beyond these basic particularities are where the interest lies, of course. The music combines a sort of fusion-prog rock sensibility with a new sort of minimalism, modern concert vocabulary and a two-pronged concern with both the written note and improvisation. The drums pulse in a quasi-rock way, one or more of the guitars set up ostinatos with the cello and all three get space for improvisation.
That only begins to describe the music at hand though. This is a long suite with many twists and turns and in the end Gene Pritsker's music is much more than the sum of the elements involved. It's one of the more unusual works-performances I've heard in some time. It will no doubt appeal to those who look for rock that moves deeply into the "serious" music category. Those enthusiasts of contemporary classical and improvisation will find something very different here. No matter what camp you may be a part of, this recording will stretch the boundaries of what you expect. Most importantly Pritsker does it all with an assurance and lucidity that make a case for why such hybrids can provide exciting, absorbing listening. This one does.