Slide, a theater piece by composer Steven Mackey and writer Rinde Eckert, had its premiere at the 2009 Ojai Music Festival, with eighth blackbird and the creators performing. The original version lasted about 80 minutes, and the version here, recorded after the performers had toured with it throughout 2010, is pared down to about 55 minutes. This album's title, Lonely Motel: Music from Slide, suggests that this disc represents excerpts from the original rather than a pared-down refinement of the material. Mackey's distillation/amalgamation of traditions -- he cites Dowland, Mozart, Stravinsky, Piazzolla, and the Beatles -- as well as a variety of rock styles and minimalisms and post-minimalisms makes a coherent musical statement that carries a pungent emotional punch. The extraordinary singer and dramatist Rinde Eckert contributed the libretto and delivers a powerful performance of the vocal part, and the composer plays electric guitar and serves as narrator. eighth blackbird performs with its customary brilliance, dazzling with its instrumental virtuosity and versatility, along with additional vocal and dramatic contributions. The narrative of the piece, a psychologist's lovelorn reflections on a failed relationship, is poignant and evocative but it doesn't have the compelling dynamism of Dreamhouse, a stunning 2003 collaboration between Mackey and Eckert. The piece was nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Cedille's sound is clean, spacious, and full of life. This beautifully produced album should be of strong interest to fans of new music and new theater music.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins