Hans Fjellestad

Red Sauce Baby

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Red Sauce Baby is a CD that emphasizes Hans Fjellestad's work as a composer. It contains a selection of pieces encompassing solo piano to tape music to compositions for larger ensembles. Such albums rarely fail to lack a little bit of cohesion and this one makes no exception. That being said, there is a lot to like here. The set begins with "Slow Motion Perp Walk," an honest piece of electro-acoustics that eats like a hors d'oeuvre. Blending electronics with piano and ambient recordings that include voice, it foretells the more satisfying "Pulp451," a short hörspiel based on excerpts from letters by George Washington. "Three Sockets" and "Gadfly Principle" showcase Fjellestad improvising at the piano and prepared piano -- his style has something of the classical flare found in Sergey Kuryokhin and Andrew Czink. "Zoonomia I" and "Zoonomia II" put him in a duo piano context with Dana Reason. But the main point of interest on Red Sauce Baby resides in the ten-minute composition "Free Throw Prophet." This venue-specific piece was recorded at the Zion Building, a Mormon church that has an indoor basketball court next to the chapel. Bagpipes hint at a national Scottish tune while an ensemble made of church organ, woodwinds, and percussion interacts with the basketball game being played. The squeaks of sneakers and thumps of the ball blend in the composition. The result is obviously original, but it also goes beyond the mere avant-gardist novelty act, building a bridge of some sort between the sacred and the profane. Although, unlike what the composer seems to think, the real sacred thing here is not the church or its organ, but serious music as a whole.

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