By Sarah Moore
"In the aftermath of the explosion of musical structures which took place in the 1960's, there were plenty of musical fragments lying around, just waiting to be put to use."
~ liner notes
The result of homeless musical phrases put together, revamped, and breathed new life is the latest release from Peter Apfelbaum, It Is Written. Involving the aforementioned as well as 25 other musicians (including Trey Anastasio, Josh Roseman, and Steven Bernstein of sex mob), this 60-plus minute disc is quite the magnum opus. Incorporating leftover musical fragments from all over the world, Apfelbaum and cohorts have created an “explosion to take place.” He floats easily from instrument to instrument, from winds to keys to percussion, throughout the disc. The rich worldliness is not lost as some tracks contain up to 15 musicians playing at one time.
The disc begins on a rather dissonant note in “Prelude,” then moves into “Labile (Unfolding).” This track is a veritable unfolding of a musical seam, as instruments are added as the track progresses. In a subtle Steely Dan groove, guitars protrude reminiscent of Wayne Krantz’s craftiness. Some may construe the next track, “Rainbow Sign,” as slightly “busy” while others consider it to be heavy and flowing. The next track, “Apparition/Projectiles,” however, fills everyone’s fancies as Mile Davis-infused-streetwalking melds into percussive basswalking. Tony Jones and Josh Roseman contribute their solos, and several musical directions ultimately meet back up. The slow, steady groove is very timely and reminiscent of “Bitch’s Brew.”
Acoustic tropical guitar opens the fifth track, “Song of the Signs.” The song almost feels like a calm after the storm that was the prior track. Trey Anastasio’s electric guitar sounds as though he could be in the midst of a beautiful “You Enjoy Myself” solo. Beats and sounds from Africa fill the air in the next track, “Petroglyph Extension.” What sounds like tribal callings turns out to be just that: Abdoulaye Diabete from Mali, Africa contributes his vocals to the exotic track. In “Shotgun Bouquet,” what sounds like Billy Joel piano grooving gives way to a bass interlude. At this point everyone becomes involved, giving rise to what the piano was playing originally. Jeff Cressman’s trumpet solo heads into Norbert Stachel’s piccolo. Also featured on this track is Cyro Baptista, master of South American percussives. The whole 12 minute “bouquet” is “shotgunned” our way, especially approaching the end of the track. Open the ear canals for it to flow forth.
The title track features Charles Burnam on violin, crying a beautiful soliloquy. The phlegmatic whining of the rest of the winds builds in its soulfulness, inebriating the listener. A familiar phrase recalls the “Prelude.” As the disc winds down, we are left with a complete work that was once musical wreckage.
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