Half Notes: Anti-Social Music – Fracture: The Music Of Pat Muchmore (2010)

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I have a real appreciation for classical music, but I’m not what you’d call a fan. Generally speaking, music’s either gotta be free or unpredictable like jazz or straightforward and powerful like rock or blues; classical music tends to not have either of those qualities. That can’t really be said about the maverick chamber music troupe Anti-Social Music. As the name makes clear, this is what my fellow whack jazz obsessive Mark Saleski calls “room clearing music.” It’s not whack jazz, though, it’s whack classical.

Though Anti-Social Music has sixteen equal participants, one is a bit more equal than the others: cellist Pat Muchmore. That’s because this album is dedicated to the quirky, wide-ranging and unhinged compositions of this musical eccentric. It’s hard to pin down a pattern across his songs except to note that just when you think you’ve found one, he shifts abruptly to something completely different. There are short, shrill songs (“Gumdrops And Kittens”), long, contemplative ones (“Portrait 7”), songs with vast stretches of ambiance (“Strong Quartet No. 2”), and highly structured passages mixed in with entirely improvisational ones. Along with traditionally classical instruments are occasional intrusions by electronics, voices, electric guitars and samples. And the song titles themselves are often either full of unpronounceable symbols, or not appropriate to utter in polite company.

Fracture is the musical equivalent of a box of chocolates, with none of the chocolates being the real sweet, milky pieces. No sir, this is the dark, hard stuff, and if you prefer your candy undiluted and strong that way, Anti-Social Music has a Whitman’s Sampler for you.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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