“Composer-guitarist John Schott has a fascination with the past, as well as with the convergence of idioms. The basis of the work is a series of ancient recordings, scratchy near-inaudible cylinders from the end of the 19th century that include "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star," whistling, speeches, and a bugle call. These are used as backdrops or central voices in several of the 28 pieces that make up Shuffle Play, pieces that range from pointillist modern classical composition to free jazz to mixtures of the two. Tracks vary in length from atmospheric bits as brief as 10 seconds to more than seven minutes, while Schott's Ensemble Diglossia expands from individual soloists through small improvising groups to reach an 11-member chamber ensemble of reeds, strings, and percussion for four tracks.”
Elegy is the ECM leader debut by vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann. A prolific recording artist, his association with the label dates back to Meredith Monk's 2002 date Mercy and its follow-up, Impermanence, in 2008 (Bleckmann was a member of her ensemble for 15 years). His voice was also a focal point of Julia Hulsmann's quartet on 2015's Clear Midnight: Kurt Weill & America. For a singer who draws attention to himself almost as much for what he doesn't do as what he does, Elegy is a quiet yet startling offering.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Although admittedly a posthumous release, I was very surprised at the rather dismissive tenor of many of the reviews of this album to date. Hopefully this record will be reappraised soon as being a release worthy of anyone's consideration as I feel it does enhance an already rich legacy left behind by this very fine and innovative band. (So what if Charisma wanted to ride the slipstream of the lucrative ELP juggernaut?)
Coban and his four comrades are smugglers who live in the bleak, inaccesable mountains. They are hard, pitiless men like the county they live in, whose daily commerce is in greed, danger, betrayal and murder.