Tim Brady

Revolutionary Songs

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Revolutionary Songs, released in 1996, contains four works written by Tim Brady and performed by members of his ensemble, Bradyworks. The guitarist himself performs only on the title piece, a six-part cycle running for 39 minutes. This is the main opus here, one of the composer's most ambitious projects. These are literally "Revolutionary Songs": lyrics are taken from revolutionary writings from Alexander Blok (Russia); Antonio Jacinto (Angola); Camille Desmoulins and Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (France); and Regino Pedro and Ernesto Cardinal (Nicaragua). But that's not all: Brady's writing evolves in cycles of notes, much like Philip Glass' best-known works. The strength of these pieces does not reside in the Glassian form -- it lacks man power and the drive of Michael Riesman's bass synthesizer -- but in the sensitive settings devised for the lyrics and soprano Nathalie Paulin's heartfelt delivery. "The Twelve" and "Le Nom de Frère" (with its loud electric guitar wall) are treasured highlights. "Circling," a duet for soprano saxophone and vibraphone, remains uninteresting. "Three or Four Days After the Death of Kurt Cobain," for cello and piano, is based on the opening riff of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," but it's rendered unrecognizable through a severe slowing and ornamenting process. This tribute from an unexpected source is much better composition-wise than the previous piece. The album ends with a short cycle of four a capella songs for soprano Paulin based on poems by John C. Walker. For the title piece alone, Revolutionary Songs stands as one of Brady's best CDs.

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