The Science Group

A Mere Coincidence

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One of the great things about following an artist like Chris Cutler over a 30-year career is to see how qualities in his earliest work are transformed over the years and projects. From the art song experimentation of Henry Cow, Cutler has continued to write interesting texts that are not intuitively suited for musical expression, and then to find collaborators to set them to brilliant and sometimes difficult music. Although the art song as a genre hails from composers like Schubert, Cutler takes his influences from Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Bartók as well, and comes up with a monumental achievement with the Science Group, a worthy successor to a line that includes Art Bears, Domestic Stories, and the (EC) Nudes. His primary collaborators here are studio wizard and multi-instrumentalist Bob Drake and keyboardist/composer Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer. Longtime colleague Fred Frith reprises guitar duties, and Claudio Puntin plays wind instruments (recalling Lindsay Cooper's work with Henry Cow). Amy Denio once again takes up the thorny texts and angular melodies. Tickmayer's music is all over, from the ethereal chamber music of "Engineering" to the prog rock keyboard solo in "Parity," from the chorale of "Love" to the driving rock of "Schroedinger's Box," changing tempi and moods as rapidly as the "protean masses interrupt, corrupt, erupt" ("Chimera"). Cutler's lyrics, inspired by The New Scientist and the work of George Steiner, center around epistemological and scientific themes, light years away from the banalities of most pop music, but also a continuation of his text work (recall that Cutler set Thomas Pynchon to music in his Cassiber group). This is a superb album, both in itself and as part of the continuing genre-expanding work from Chris Cutler and his musical associates.

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