Pop-rock odsviran orkestrom, s milijun refernci i tisuću suradnika. Izvrsno.
Ovog čovjeka treba pratiti.
The Seattle composer and songwriter Jherek Bischoff had a dilemma: He wanted to make an orchestral pop record but, like most people, lacked an orchestra. Decidedly unlike most people, however, he remedied this by building one himself. Throwing some rudimentary recording equipment in his backpack, he visited a handful of musician friends in their homes, re-recording them as they played dozens of parts, and then mixed the painstakingly assembled piecemeal results into the majestic 70-piece outfit he could never afford during mixing. Listening to Composed with this task in mind is like imagining someone filling an Olympic-sized pool with an eye dropper: the mind balks, both at the enormity of the undertaking and at the disposition of the person behind it.
Composed had to get made. But you would have gathered this from the album's first six minutes without a shred of context anyway: Opening with a gorgeously sobbing piece of string writing reminiscent of Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings" as fanfare, the orchestra slides into a groove, tropical and breezy. And then who should wander into view but David Byrne, in loosened-tie, silver-fox mode, crooning a quizzical love song to the disparate parts of his beloved's face. Not bad for an opening number.
Composed is a succession of these head-turning walk-ons. No sooner has Byrne ambled offstage than Tropicália legend Caetano Veloso has sauntered on, for "The Secret of the Machines", stepping lightly with his reedy voice over an orchestral landscape that veers from Disney rainbows to a moat filled with snapping jaws. Greg Saunier of Deerhoof appears onComposed also, as do Nels Cline, Craig Wedren of Shudder to Think, and many others. It's an ensemble affair. Folk singer Dawn McCarthy drops by to sing a cheery number titled "Insomnia, Death and the Sea". Each artist contributed their own lyrics to Bischoff's compositions, lending the album the feel of a busy, semi-staged opera.
Bischoff arranges the songs around his guests like thick little jungles, symphonic interludes sprouting like overgrowth. On the surface, Composed feels like a successor to records like Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest and St. Vincent's Actor, chamber-pop records that drip with ornament. But it's to Van Dyke Parks, the granddaddy of unclassifiable, absurdly ambitious art-song cycles, that Composed owes the most. Like Parks, Bischoff's music swims around in a deep pool of references: a bassoon pops up, in "Secret of the Machines", quoting the opening of The Rite of Spring, and ragtime, bossa nova, and more flit airily through the arrangements. "Young and Lovely", featuring Zac Pennington of Bischoff's former band Parenthetical Girls, indulges in a broad, slurpy cabaret melody for its chorus that feels like Parks reincarnate.
If Composed doesn't resonate as deeply as it should, this debt might be part of the reason. Bischoff is a hugely talented composer, with sky-high ambitions. He is also still in the process of announcing his voice. Many of the big ideas on Composed still feel borrowed, from Parks and from others, but you can hear Bischoff busily whittling away at their edges so that he can eventually own them. The multiple guest vocalists, meanwhile, keep things lively while also preventing a through-line from developing. Composed is a good album. Someday Bischoff will likely make a great one. - Jayson Greene