Charlemagne Palestine

Palestine: A Sweet Quasimodo...

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Charlemagne Palestine may seem like an anachronism -- an old-fashioned avant-gardist who has held to his rigorous aesthetic principles in the face of decades of changing musical fashions. Palestine's work is minimalist in that it uses an extremely limited range of musical materials repeated with very slowly evolving changes, so that small differences -- an added pitch, a slight shift in tempo or volume, a new timbre or overtone -- can take on monumental musical significance. A Sweet Quasimodo Between Black Vampire Butterflies for Maybeck is divided into two sections. In the first, Palestine delivers a monologue relating personal anecdotes and very occasionally playing a note by rubbing his finger around the rim of a brandy snifter, which certainly contains brandy -- an integral element in his performances. In the second section, he plays the piano, in a manner similar to his Strumming Music (1974), repeating a single note and very gradually adding more notes, increasing the speed of the repetitions and the volume until huge clusters are struck at what seems like an inhumanly fast tempo. Palestine creates and maintains a high level of drama and powerful visceral engagement through his constant varying of articulation, volume, and sonorities, and the astonishing overtones they create. Close attention to the sounds rewards the listener with a sensuous and compelling sonic experience. This CD should be of strong interest to fans of the avant-garde and any listeners open to new experiences.

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