A filmmaker who's Chinese, 22, and gay talks about his work and love life with an unseen friend behind the camera. We also watch four of his short films. "Hysterio Passio" conjures images of men's passions. In "Matricide," a lawyer asks a young gay Chinese why he killed his mother on Christmas morning. In "Key in the Heart," a heroine (an Asian man in drag) pursues vampires. In "Fall, 1990," college students meet their roommates, and Jimmy, an edgy scholarship boy without a family, is slowly brought to an understanding of love by the callow Byron. "Flow" begins with a satiric look at the vectors of viruses and ends with a chat with our fictive filmmaker's hip mother.
Monkey is a two-part recording of baritone saxophonist Fred Ho's multimedia musical Journey Beyond the West, centered around the Chinese trickster figure of Monkey (à la Coyote in much native American lore) that combines Chinese folk music and instrumentation with jazz. Acts I and III (composed in 1990/1989, respectively) are featured here, with Acts II and IV (both written in 1994) on the companion Monkey, Pt. 2 disc.
Hermann Scherchen's performances of these Brandenburg Concerts avoids the normally expected exaltation of opening and closing movements conferred by most performances. Instead, he opts for a beautifully serene approach to the score, making it more reflective, thoughtful and expansive, hightlighting the lyrical flow that emanates from it.
Cyrus Chestnut covers a wide range of hymns, carols and spirituals on this outstanding solo piano CD. A very dramatic "Holy, Holy, Holy" would inspire any congregation, while the rich voicings in "We Three Kings" are subtle yet moving. "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" is the most compelling track, with a thought-provoking arrangement that makes great use of space.
These chamber works bring Sony's adventurous, timely Ligeti series to a natural pinnacle. Long the challenger of stylistic stasis and customary demonstrations of excellence, Ligeti has outdone himself here (as he did with the fantastic Mechanical Music release). The Trio for Violin, Horn, and Piano (1982) challenges its players to stay in step with each other even while expanding virtuosity to the breaking point. Marie-Luise Neunecker plays such full horn parts that they roll flow over the tonal bounds, as does Saschko Gawriloff's violin and Pierre-Laurent Aimard's piano… –Andrew Bartlett..
30 years on, MEZZOFORTE seem on a great roll. Still fresh-faced, creative and vibrant. After all they were only teenagers when they created Iceland?s first international chart-hit, GARDEN PARTY in 1983. This well crafted instrumental paved the way, allowing musical ideas to flow, develop and mature and making sure their over-night success should not be just a one-night stand. Their stamina and well balanced longevity reflects the name itself, MEZZOFORTE. Playing it strong without distorting.
The Space Box contains three discs of prog rock and art rock, as well as trance-inducing Kraut rock, from the early '70s. Most of this music was inspired by the sonic experimentalism of late-'60s Pink Floyd – it builds on the long, free-form coda to "Interstellar Overdrive." There are subtle differences between the bands – for instance, Hawkwind tends to lean toward hard rock more than their contemporaries, who explore psychedelia and classical music flourishes. Even though the set is well compiled and contains some fine songs (Faust and Gong sound particularly good), there's no denying that there is a limited audience for this, even among prog-rock fans. It's experimental music that is oddly limited, working the same vibe, if not the same sound. If you're not a fanatic of space-rock, then the three discs of The Space Box will simply be too much to digest.
Power pop will never die. At least, it won't as long as whippersnappers like Jonny Polonsky are around to infuse it with the youth and exuberance he displays on his debut album, Hi My Name Is Jonny. Just 22 years old, Polonsky inundated his idol, Frank Black, with tapes of his music. Black was impressed enough to not only get Polonsky a record deal, but to produce his debut. The Black touch is apparent throughout the album, especially on tracks like "In My Mind" and "I Don't Know What to Dream at Night," both of which boast loud guitars, sharp pop hooks, and cute lyrics. Occasionally, Polonsky overdoes the quirkiness that makes his songs unique – "Evil Scurvy Love" and "It's Good to Sleep" are a bit too silly for their own good. However, Polonsky's pop smarts create some terrific, catchy love songs like "Gone Away" and "Half Mind," which sound excited to exist. "Love Lovely Love" is instant gratification at its best, and "Truly Ugly and Dead Too" is as fun a put-down song as you're likely to hear. Too short at ten songs, Hi My Name Is Jonny makes Polonsky a name to remember.
Listeners familiar with any of Masaaki Suzuki's many Bach recordings for BIS are likely to know what to expect from his recording of the Well-Tempered Klavier Book II: immaculate playing, impeccable taste, and immediate sound. Perhaps best-known internationally for his series of recordings of Bach's cantatas and other sacred works, Suzuki started his career as a superlative keyboard player, and as his performance here on the harpsichord demonstrates, he has kept his skills well-honed.