nedjelja, 2. prosinca 2012.

Ratchet Orchestra - Hemlock

Jazz za pčele koje misle da je pravljenje meda passe.

If you're looking to break into the world of contemporary jazz, Hemlock is the album. The third from Ratchet Orchestra in the group's 18 year lifespan, the album feels both comfortably experienced and stride-catchingly fresh. Which isn't to say that the band hasn't been striding along wonderfully since it's debut, only to point out that the group's third feels like its grand achievement, its youthful revelation--18 years in. Hemlock is a swelling set with enormous range, offering both orchestral jauntiness, and freely improvised chaos; moments of joyousness and playful abandon matched with loosely threaded melancholy; and all of it managed with a master-craft's touch. More simply, Hemlock is an expression of artistic genius, music that transcends genre. Ratchet Orchestra have tapped into something that demands being recommended in fevered tones, as if your life depended on listening to it. Who knows, maybe it's pretty good. -

Ratchet Orchestra’s latest release Hemlock, like its namesake, can be difficult to ingest. This Montreal based collective of over 30 musicians present the listener with a fascinating yet puzzling set of free form orchestra jazz numbers. Recorded by Godspeed You! Black Emperor bassist Thierry Amar and produced by Nicolas Caloia, Ratchet Orchestra blends a variety of incongruent musical elements together with mixed results as a listening experience.
“Winnow” eases the listener into the album with its dreamy introduction, punctuated by a pair of masterfully executed saxophone and trombone solos respectively. This slowing burning cut is easily one of the most sonically relaxed of the album. The arrival of a jarring string movement is the track’s only moment of unease. Ratchet Orchestra generally come off stronger on their shorter compositions, particularly on “Yield,” which bounces along in a stately manner on a rhythm infusing both elements of swing and waltz.
  The longer, more improvisational selections from Hemlock will likely be the sticking point for many listeners in terms of appreciating this album as a complete experience. The loose arrangements on tracks like “Dusty” and “Safety” highlight different sections of the orchestra and to showcase the undeniably impressive musical talent at play here. What gets lost in translation is a sense of purpose. At their best, these free form sound experiments can be mystifying in their absurdity. At their worst, these tracks can sound aimless, meandering, and unnecessarily cacophonous.
  Hemlock is an interesting listen to be sure. There’s enough going on to keep one attentive to all the different instruments, moods, and rhythms at play here. Its indulgences do add up after a while, resulting in a somewhat uneven album as a whole. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be said that Ratchet Orchestra are definitely stretching and playing with the boundaries and taboos of jazz and orchestrated music.-

"The eclectic astounding and sometimes mystifying Ratchet Orchestra continue to attract attention with the release of their third recording Hemlock. Recorded by Godspeed you! Black Emperor bassist Thierry Amar and released on the Vancouver label Drip Audio, The Ratchet Orchestra is a who's who of Montreal's edgiest musicians. Director Nicolas Caloia's compositions provide a structure to showcase fierce talents like Tom Walsh, Jean Derome, Lori Freedman, Sam Shalabi, and Christopher Cauley. The Ratchet Orchestra has existed since the early 1990s when Caloia started experimenting with improvised chamber jazz. In 1998 the size of the band began to swell for a legendary birthday tribute to the inspirational SunRa and it has continued expanding to it's current membership of 30 strong. This band makes a powerful sound but is not designed to be a demonstration of force, rather, it embraces human frailty. The Ratchet Orchestra does not resemble a sports team or an army, it's members do not have to march in perfect formation. They are pirates, not the navy. The group defies reason.
Since 1990 Nicolas Caloia has worked at creating a contemporary music generated by using accurately composed textures to channel collective improvisation. The goal is a music that erases the lines between improvised and composed, pop and avant-garde, good and bad. He hopes this music will satisfy the body, the mind and, above all, the heart. He has worked as a performer, composer, and organizer in Montreal and has toured in North America, Europe, and Asia. He has performed and recorded in a vast array of contexts with the most important members of Montreal's creative music community as well as with internationally renowned musicians like Marshall Allen, John Butcher, Joe McPhee, Steve Lacy, Hassan Hakmoun, Tristan Honsinger and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. His concerts and numerous recordings have been critically acclaimed both at home and abroad. Currently, the majority of his work as a composer and improviser finds a voice in: The Ratchet Orchestra - a 30 piece bigband; Tilting - the Nicolas Caloia Quartet, Ring - a sextet, Spell - a 10 piece marching band, Trephining a quintet, Mercury - a duet Lori Freedman as well in solo performances." -Drip Audio

David Dacks, an editor with Exclaim and the Artistic Director of The Music Gallery, believes Ratchet Orchestra's Hemlock album should win the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.
Here's why:
Jazz has never had much of a sniff at Polaris, but this record’s epic scope transcends genre to appeal to anyone with a love for big, bold sounds.
Ratchet Orchestra’s Hemlock is a massive canvas; the kind from which you stand back and go "wow." Hemlock is built on grand mid-20th century big-band dynamics, post-classical strains and a willingness to dissolve into impressionistic freedom. The album’s luxurious instrumental colours and thrilling arrangements offer many gorgeous details which captivate from start to finish. It’s more than great music, it’s a great album. Mixing and mastering dexterity balances the voices of 31 instruments to draw out both placid moments and gratingly rough passages.
Ironically, this album may be too left-of-center for many jazz fans but all the more appealing to those who appreciate the massive sonics of fellow Montrealers Constellation Records’ releases. The multicultural lineup of Ratchet Orchestra is a different look on creative music from Montreal and reaffirms the ability of jazz to speak in many languages. Hemlock a record this country needs to hear and celebrate.

I felt that once I've copied the band's members list my work is close to finished. The Ratchet Orchestra is led by Montreal based bass player Nicolas Caloia who composed all the tunes on "Hemlock" which is the big band's second release. Just one look at the line-up gives you some idea about how huge might be the sound of this music.
It is colourfull and rich and mesmerizes with the palette of shades and lights. "Winnow" starts the cd gently and peacefully, broad orchestral strokes paint a delicate landscape, strings' cadenza rises like a sunshine and the trombone solo is like a children's song. Captivating and enchanting as the morning's gentle light. 
"Dusty" resembles in the beginning an african song, light melody dances glides over the steady slow beat, rhythmic ctrucutre filled with guitars, percussion, occasional riff by the brass section. Couple minutes into the track the guitar starts to stirr the pot with a distored solo and the music becomes frenzy as the other instuments join in, the third part of the piece the airy mood is brought upon a built-up orchestral chord. 
"Yield" brings back the joyfull and rhythmic african influences with a sudden if short waltz motive inbeetween. 
And there's so much more to enjoy on the cd. "Wish" with its soulfull saxophone solo in the first part and frenetic fender piano-based groove in the second. A short yet to the point "Kick" which is an orchestral reading of jazz poetry (chords based on the repeated rhythmically in various order words: kick, that, habit, man). The peacefull "Safety". The misterious "Hemlock".
The music on this cd is majestic, a constant flow of coulourfull images in high- resolution, it charms with the melodious substance but captivates with the harmonic depth and greandeur. It sweeps you with the reach and richness of musical vision. It's scope far beyond jazz but improvisation remains one of the main ingredients. The about this 30-piece (sic!) unit is that the instruments don't top each other, the goal is not to add "above" to the sound, cumulate it but rather broaden and enrich it. To hear 30 minds coexist in one space and cocreate is, to simply put it, infinitely inspiring. Bordering on jazz, classic orchestra music and movies score this is music of rare beauty and magnitude. 


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