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Crossover experience

The Sirius String Quartet's gig with some sonic criminals is observed from a safe distance by KEITH BRAMICH

Cuneiform    rune 126

Doctor Nerve with the Sirius String Quartet. © 2000 Cuneiform Records


The structure of Ereia makes it literally a crossover experience. Built in three movements, the first is for string quartet alone, with some clapping [listen -- track 1, 1:39-2:40] in the first section, She Look He Spit, from composer Nick Didkovsky. The last movement has the Sirius Quartet 'absorbed' into the squeaky aleatoric jazz/rock anything-goes environment of Doctor Nerve, a band of self-styled 'sonic criminals' who perform 'acts of unimagineable musical cruelty and luminosity'. Both movements were recorded in 1999 in a studio environment, with some help from HMSL and JSML software, and each has four distinct sections.

Flesh Comes Out, the fourth section of part one, inhabits a sound world close to that of the Shostakovich quartets. It is with the ear atuned to this twentieth century classical environment that the central second movement -- a conducted improvisation which Didkovsky calls a 'morphological bridge' between the outer movements -- begins, with a sudden jolt to the senses [listen -- track 5, 0:00-1:04]. This is one of those moments of white-hot chaos you'll either love or hate, with the title, For Being Nice To The Wrong People, suggesting a form of punishment. The heat cannot be sustained for more than a couple of minutes, and this twenty minute movement, captured live in concert in 1997, continues with some fascinating and more relaxed sounds, including the strangest noises I've ever heard emanate from a saxophone!

A nice touch at the end of this live second movement, amidst applause and other appreciative audience noises, is the sound of the quartet tuning up in preparation for Far Away Scares Him, the first section of the last movement. This is presumably fabricated, since viola player Ron Lawrence is the only member of the 1997 Sirius Quartet to play in the first and third movements, and since Far Away Scares Him was apparently generated entirely using the HMSL software! The section builds gradually from a soft opening, reminiscent of Copland or Ives, to the chaotic sound used at the start of the live second movement, and from this point on, with section titles He Shares A Little Knife With His Sister, The Thorn Piercing His Coat and At Last The Hand, Shifting we remain thoroughly in Doctor Nerve's realm.

A successful album, this -- well played and full of fun -- a fun reflected by the composite faces of the CD booklet and the automatically generated album name.


Copyright © 30 March 2002 Keith Bramich, Ludlow, Shropshire, UK



Ereia - Doctor Nerve with the Sirius String Quartet

rune 126 Stereo 54'52" 2000 Cuneiform Records



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews