Chameleon Trio Group - In Between

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Mindoors Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:17:00

Ever since composers started developing a sickly obsession with extended techniques on acoustic instruments (and I'm not talking about Monteverdi here), the world has had the misfortune of having to deal with growing legions of spoiled brats who won't play anything unless it has multiphonics, acting, or polyrhythms that are humanly impossible to play (not to mention meaningless) spread around like a bad case of syphilis. On second thought though, the world right now has the misfortune of having to deal with emo, and there aren't really that many people who care about music with extended techniques, whether it's classical, jazz, RIO, new music, or fill in the few remaining blanks. But I digress. The point I'm trying to make here, and I'm sure you knew this was coming after being unfortunate enough to witness such a crass lack of subtlety from yours truly, is that the Chameleon Trio Group is an ensemble that is absolutely in love with the use of extended techniques. What I didn't telegraph by a mile, however, is that its members are good at them, and that you're going to have to keep reading if you want to find out more juicy details.

What? You didn't think I was just going to give it away like that, did you? I might not agree with people who think virginity ages like good wine, but I'm not the ultimate slut of review spoilers either. I think I also got myself banned from half the publications of this world with that little comment, but never mind, let's go back to our review before we end up in Descartes' brain. Where was I? Oh yes, flutist Dvir Katz, clarinetist Nitai Levi, and double bassist Ora Boasson Horev use their debut to explore a variety of extended and not-so-extended techniques, including jet? bowing and all sorts of col legno mischief, tongue rams, pitch bending, blowing, key clicks, singing while playing, moves from sul tasto to sul ponticello, flutter tongue, and so on. Yes, tongue rams, bending, flutter tongue, and blowing - Jesus Christ, this virginity metaphor is turning into a veritable nightmare, isn't it? The point is, although there are plenty of notes played just like you would expect, these three Israelis have chosen to use these techniques not only as color, but also as structural elements, i.e., to let you know where you are in a piece. You know why? Because you'll need the guidance.

To picture In Between in your head, think of Henry Cow turned into a small acoustic chamber ensemble, and then subtract structure - a lot of it. It's not quite the same, but the harmonic palette is similar, and the way pitches are slightly off and in constant metamorphosis is somewhere along the same lines, with the exception that Katz has a penchant for creating some really catchy motifs, such as his playful flute runs on "Greedy" and a number of great double bass-driven moments on both "Yeladudes" and "Optimism?," above which he and Levi deliver a flurry of playful and restless notes, keeping the listener barely on the edge of familiarity while taunting one good-spiritedly. Now, add really lengthy solo sections, most notably in the awkward void created by them right in the middle of the aforementioned "Yeladudes," in the closing and distinctive bass clarinet runs towards the end of "Why?," and in the beautifully sparse interlude of natural harmonics played by Boasson Horev in "Optimism?," and you're closer to the essence of this ensemble.

OK, great. But how does it actually pan out? Ah, see, that's where things get interesting. There are a couple of horribly jarring moments along the proceedings; particularly when Katz starts singing with annoying desperation through his flute in "Why?" and ruins the uncomfortably awkward dirge surrounding him, and when the general flow of "Yeladudes" is abruptly stopped by what at one point seems interminable soloing with no sense of purpose. And a lot of the musician's individual work is missing that special something, of which Levi's extended solo in "Why?" and Boasson Horev's obsession with double stop glissandos is a prime example - some beautiful ideas, really, but they just kind of get exploited a bit too much without going anywhere. Add to that the fact that the true thematic meat in these four pieces seems to be somewhat elusive, except for in the summarizing "Moods," and you'd figure that In Between would better serve its purpose as a coaster. But when all is said and done, and the final notes of this hour-long album disappear, it all just works, as if by magic. Sure, when Katz and company use the initial themes of a piece at the end again in order to provide a sense of structure, your head tells you it's more of a compositional gimmick than anything else, but the truth is, they bring about an undeniable sense of closure and comforting familiarity. And the solos in the album might be incredibly self-indulgent and could often do with better general phrasing and an overall line, but they all fit like pieces in a perfect puzzle by the end. And Katz's horrible singing moment on "Why?"?well, actually, that's the only part that doesn't really work...

To make a long story short, this Israel-based trio has somehow managed to make a surprisingly enjoyable whole from a collection of parts that at first would seem destined to make little children cry from sheer frustration. And when I say enjoyable, I mean really good. Really, really good. Add this to the ever-growing list of albums that drive me nuts at first, laugh at me for a few seconds before I get the chance to break your legs for it, and then listen to In Between when you get the chance. (See? I told you had to keep reading. And no, I'm not telling you when I lost my virginity ? Jesus, someone needs to get laid around here (and it ain't me).)

Yeladudes (14:21) / Greedy (7:45) / Why? (20:43) / Optimism? (11:50) / Moods (6:38)

Dvir Katz - flute
Nitai Levi - clarinet and bass clarinet
Ora Boasson Horev - contrabass

In Between (2006)

Genre: Other

Origin IL

Added: November 29th 2008
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 936
Language: english


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