Guillermo E. Brown

Mendi & Keith Obadike Present Crosstalk

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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos

Word play set to a musical backdrop has evolved into its own unique art form in different directions, from all forms of pop music, beat poetry with jazz, electronically enhanced sounds, and rap with hip-hop. Crosstalk is a collection of pieces that speak to all of these disciplines at one point or another, a storytelling extravaganza ranging from insular accounts of human endeavor, existential musings, artistic depictions of beauty and nature, and poetic justice meted out in blunt measures of modern jurisprudence. Mendi Obadike and Keith Obadike who perform on two tracks and have organized these recordings, offer future visions of what spoken word might sound like on earth, in the atmosphere and the outer limits. Live instrumental music and solos are kept to a minimum, but at the cusp of these recordings are dense abstractions, technologically primitive or advanced, and mutated to the point of being alien and strange, yet beautiful and refined. If you are a creative improvised music maven, you'll likely gravitate to the selections by Guillermo E. Brown, George E. Lewis, and the Vijay Iyer/Mike Ladd duo. Drummer Brown offers a hard beat funk underneath his gibberish poetry which sounds Arabic, Lewis solos in real time on his familiar trombone over dense, underground laptop sampled sounds from world-wide videos taken during his travels, and Iyer's keenly degrading keyboard and harmonium musings with Ladd's beats are superimposed over spoken word war newscasts during "Redemption Chant 2.0." Jazz fans might know vocalist Shelly Hirsch, and may be surprised at her maniacal and sexual ode to Dad "In the Basement," sung and rapped in live performance at The Kitchen. Violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain offers "Blimp/Sky" in a purely evocative and mainly tuneful mural of laughter, voices of the past, and images of a gray horizon. One of two at length pieces developed in their own time, guitarist Paul Lansky's stunning "Chatter Of Pins" is a minimalist, multi-tracked texture/trance piece, replete with plucked Asian elements, looped electronics, static rhythms, and a quaint feel as he and his wife recite an English folk song of rejection. "The Society Architect Ponders The Golden Gate Bridge" by Peter Gordon and Lawrence Weiner is the transcription of a car accident trial, presided over by a prejudiced judge to a tambourine beat as arguing prosecutor Joan LaBarbara proffers rebuttals against the artistic endeavors of Weiner, played by Jeffrey Reynolds. Pamela Z adopts a Laurie Anderson poetry/electronic stance on the insular "I" driven "Declaratives In The First Person," Tracie Morris sounds like Cassandra Wilson on acid for the multi-layered jazz/hip-hop "Africa(n)," DJ Spooky and "Ursula Rucker" wax on race over a marimba sample for "Being Black," while the Obadike's expound in a 2/4 beat with mbira in a tale of "Mark the Cook" prior to a fox hunt during "The Pink of Stealth," and are on their own flattened effect trip for the blood color on "Rodeo Red." This diverse, oddish, and comely music goes far beyond what one might expect, and should prompt you to explore the works of each and every one of these artists' work, regardless of how they approach mere verbalized language.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Pamela Z 05:04 Amazon
2 Guillermo E. Brown 03:27 Amazon
3 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Tracie Morris 03:30 Amazon
4 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Shelley Hirsch 03:08 Amazon
5 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Paul Lansky 11:19 Amazon
6 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Mendi / Keith Obadike 06:18 Amazon
7 Guillermo E. Brown feat: DJ Spooky 01:15 Amazon
One Loss Plus, multimedia installation
8 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Daniel Bernard Roumain 05:02 Amazon
The Society Architect Ponders the Golden Gate Bridge, opera
9 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Peter Gordon / Lawrence Weiner 13:40 Amazon
10 Guillermo E. Brown feat: George Lewis / Mendi / Keith Obadike 03:10 Amazon
11 Guillermo E. Brown feat: George E. Lewis / John Link 06:12 Amazon
Life Studies, for voice samples & electronics
12 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Vijay Iyer / John Link 05:16 Amazon
13 Guillermo E. Brown feat: Vijay Iyer 03:38 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick