John Korsrud

Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes: An Eclectic Collection of New Music Compositions

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The subtitle of this album reveals the whole plot: "An Eclectic Collection of New Music Compositions." The material included on Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes was composed and recorded between 1995 and 2001. It features a number of performers and settings, from solo pieces for guitarist Ron Samworth to works for Amsterdam's Combustion Chamber, the CBC Radio Orchestra, and the Hard Rubber Orchestra, the latter being John Korsrud's longstanding creature. An HRO album this is not, but fans of the avant-garde brass band will view this as familiar territory. The main novelty here is the presence of strings, which open up the composer's sound palette. Nonetheless, Korsrud is first and foremost a maximalist composer. He just loves to mass musicians, give them a part that will drain all their energy, and see what happens. There are a few quieter pieces here, namely the opener, "Girl on the Grass," a duet between Samworth and Korsrud (on trumpet) written for a TV documentary, but most of the music features at least six musicians. "Glurp" is written for (and performed by) the 14 musicians of Combustion Chamber. An interesting blend of classical clichés and avant big-band tendencies, it provides a challenging yet quite entertaining listen. But the true highlights are found elsewhere, as in "VAP DIST," a work in three movements for orchestra, in which Korsrud applies his maximalist views to the string section with striking results. The fourth movement of "String Theory" (the only one included here) is an orgiastic ten-minute piece that has all the drive of a typical Hard Rubber Orchestra number, except that it is performed by only five musicians, with samples by Paul Dolden; it swings, rocks, and sweats. The album concludes with the Hard Rubber Orchestra performing "You Look Like an Angel" with special guest vocalist Joe Keithley, aka Joey Shithead from the Vancouver punk band D.O.A. A funny blend of jazz (quoting "(You're The) Devil in Disguise"), punk, noise, and hot avant funk licks, it serves as a reminder of Korsrud's unique sense of humor. Odd Jobs, Assorted Climaxes may be eclectic in nature and lacking recent material, but its carefully selected material makes it a welcome addition to Korsrud's recorded output. Recommended.

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