New World's Ice Cream Time begins with a kid's voice singing "It's Ice Cream Time! It's Ice Cream Time!" It is taken from old, burned-out audio and sounds like one of the kids in The Little Rascals, except that his use of the word "funky" suggests a recording of more recent vintage. This gives way to a slurry of drunken saxes and palpitating guitar that gradually peps up into a mix that is funky indeed, alternatively loose and complex, zany, Zappa-esque, and not, whatever you would like to call it, it is. It is an hour-long adventure orchestrated by iconoclastic New York composer Nick Didkovsky in collaboration with sampler/processor Thomas Dimuzio and crack European saxophone ensemble ARTE Quartet. Prior to making this recording, the ARTE Quartet had already distinguished itself through fine realizations of works by Terry Riley in a previous New World release. Dimuzio is a San Francisco-based audio artist who offers his work through his Gench Music online catalog.
Ice Cream Time is a long suite built out of 12 separate parts, some of which connect together and some that do not, but it feels all of a piece -- not so much a "suite" in the conventional sense so much as a long theme park ride with a number of separate attractions. There are parts of it that are mysterious, atmospheric, and even a little menacing, particularly in the latter half, although it is seldom profound in the sense that most "serious" music tends to be. However, profundity doesn't seem the overall aim Didkovsky is shooting for. This is "downtown" music, lighthearted in character even as it maintains a generally high level of musical sophistication. Ice Cream Time is fast moving and fun, especially in the first half, although the artists do not confide in us the source of the little kid audio at the beginning. As in the mystery of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, "the world may never know."