Review of Songs [12k1036]

E-I (US)

The prepared instrument conjures intricacies that may seem somewhat off the point of altering an instrument to begin with. The lengths to which John Cage strove to notate the type, weight and position of every nut, bolt or shim he stuck into a piano demonstrates little more than an ultra-conventional obsession at the repertory’s Most Hallowed Altar of Repeatability, a notion then not yet retired by the profusion of recording devices available to pretty well anyone and everyone. Where Mr. Roux stands on this point—of the arbitrary as opposed to the overly documented random—is difficult to know. Lacking the at times overbearing formality and durations of some of Cage’s work, Roux tunes the pieces to a still more contemporary ear by favoring the steady state and keeping things short. In fact, the whole CD is really of EP length with seven pieces amounting to a little over 30 minutes. Usually restricted to solo instruments, these pieces all meditate on the unintended sounds of their instruments (“The Guitar Song And Drums Song”; “The Prepared Piano Song”; “The Cello Song”, and so on). The respect for silence and for the fundamental notion that the sounds an instrument is capable of are not wholly determined by the designer of that instrument reaches back to the obvious reference to Cage and all the way forward to the ears-wide-open catalog that comprised Fred Frith’s Guitar Solos. The music here is a wonderful reminder of that simple, wide-eyed love of surprise and discovery. – K. LEIMER

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