Furious Artisans FACD6829 (icarusquartet.org)
There are those who call out “somebody should do [a thing]” and there are those like the Icarus Quartet who just do them. In this case, the thing to do is find a jam where interesting, exploratory music is buoyed by popular or (gasp) commercial music. Big Things is the title track of a three-work disc from this double-duo: two pianos, two percussion. Big sounds and big gestures are what they bring to the party, or perhaps the brunch table. A running gag in the liner notes is the American pancake, in all its fluffy glory. Not sure how it ties to the actual music, but a gimmick’s a gimmick, and they go with it, including the track running times expressed as dollar-and-cent prices on a diner-style menu.
Fortunately, there’s no gimmick in the performance, for truly, these lads play the s#!+ out of the material. I like track 1 and tracks 3-10 most. That leaves Brad Lubman’s Tangents, track 2, and at over twenty dollars (cough, minutes), you’d want to like it the most. Alas. Michael Laurello’s title track is just over half that price, but beautifully poses two one-word questions in shifty ways: isitorisitnotanostinato? And whenisanostinatonotanostinato? Forgiveme. Buy the disc, you’ll get the answers, or a fun trip towards them.
Performances of these first two works are just the bomb, as the kids used to say, at some point. Favourite item of all, a bunch of small sides that add up to the second half of this one-hour disc (30 bucks), Paul Lansky’s Textures. Each short section of eight develops a synaesthetic depiction: Striations, Soft Substrate, Granite, just some of the textures conjured in sound; and then Slither, wherein one is reminded that sometimes very LARGE things can slither.