Christopher DeLaurenti

Three Camels for Orchestra and Other New and Weird American Music

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Back in 1995, when the Internet was young and the virtual network of avant-garde music still in its infancy, DeLaurenti's pose as a maverick composer, a misunderstood, isolated basement genius of sorts, made some sense. Nowadays, the vitriolic comments against academia found in his liner notes and the subtitle "New and Weird American Music" simply sound pretentious. Nevertheless, Three Camels for Orchestra contains some nice challenging music. DeLaurenti works somewhere between sound collage and musique concrète. Amidst the crude tape manipulation and vinyl quoting, listeners hear acoustic instruments: double bass, toys, percussion, and trombone. The latter is used to particularly great effect in "Hiram's Blood," by far the best work. These pieces predate the laptop computer era. They have that homemade, painstaking, necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention feel. The "magnum opus" should have been "Three Camels for Orchestra," but these collages of classical music records rarely rise above childish quoting (with a fixation on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring). Granted, the composer shapes interesting gestures out of unrelated snippets, but when the excerpts are long enough to be recognizable (as long as ten seconds sometimes), the listener loses DeLaurenti's work in favor of hearing only the original. The noise-based pieces like "Canon Sludge," "Iszkarrchse," and the gloomy "Dimming Hope, Rising Ambition" are more satisfactory and could be of appeal to those who enjoyed the days of the '80s industrial cassette underground.