CD Reviews: New releases from Ryan Rapsys and Clearwater Hot Club
You may not know Ryan Rapsys by name, but he's doing wonders for Duluth's largely unheard-of electronica scene. Although his latest release, "The Novus Arcadia," could easily draw comparisons to a number of the genre's most celebrated artists -- ...
You may not know Ryan Rapsys by name, but he's doing wonders for Duluth's largely unheard-of electronica scene.
Although his latest release, "The Novus Arcadia," could easily draw comparisons to a number of the genre's most celebrated artists -- namely Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and, to a lesser extent, Photek -- its dozen instrumental tracks work together marvelously as a whole.
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Though only 26 years old, Rapsys is becoming a celebrated composer. (Perhaps his biggest accolade came in 2003, when the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra performed one of his orchestral works, "Modicum One 2-1202.")
Aside from his contemporary classical compositions, Rapsys has also scored local theatrical and dance performances and -- through his outfit Erratik Productions -- films, like the haunting "Cui Bono? WTC."
Some highlights on the album include the cerebral opener "Aperture" (quite reminiscent of MTV's promo spots for its "Amp" series), the lost-in-a-foggy-forest quality of "Birchy" and "Flap Flux," with its late-period Aphex Twin undertones.
"The Novus Arcadia" is available now. To catch up with the prolific Rapsys (and for some free MP3s to sample), visit www.erratikproductions.com .
To the casual jazz listener, the sophomore set from Grand Rapids' Clearwater Hot Club is a mixed bag.
"Some of These Days," another instrumental album, is all over the map. Its range covers everything from the sly and upbeat opener (a cover of Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose") to calm, cool and collected (the "Cheers"-esque "Anouman") to painfully dull -- as is the case with the group's take on Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood."
However, one of the group's saving graces is its raison d'?tre: preserving and performing the music of Django Reinhardt, a well-respected Belgian jazz guitarist.
Though he died in the early '50s, his spirit lives on here with three polished covers: the somber "Nuages," the aforementioned "Anouman" and "Improvisation No. 6," which, if you think about it, is kind of an ironic choice for a cover song. (The other group muse is jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, who formed Quintette du Hot Club de France with Reinhardt.)
Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, July 6, at Beaner's Central. Cost is $6. For details, check out www.clearwaterhotclub.com .
Is Mt. Vernon, Iowa, the next Nashville? Of course not, but there's something to Dan Colehour's no-place-like-the-Heartland approach to country music. While he's no John Mellencamp, "Straight to the Highway" is a lot more approachable to rock fans than a majority of that stale genre's stable of releases.
While "Hooray This Projector" and "Objects in Motion" are undeniable indie rock gems, the remainder of Sir Salvatore's "Those Men are Not Astronauts" EP more or less sounds like a band only just beginning to realize its full potential. Expect great things from this San Francisco group's next release.
Every summer the Minnesota Zoo opens up its stage for concerts from an eclectic array of performers. Subsequently, the best of those live performances are released each year on a CD benefiting its conservation programs. "Music in the Zoo, Vol. 3: Please Don't Feed the Musicians" features a number of choice cuts, including stellar performances from Adam Levy, Andrew Bird and the Yonder Mountain String Band.
In a similar vein, Ann Savoy and Her Sleepless Knights' "If Dreams Come True" is chock full of music that makes you feel good to be alive. Unlike the jazz of, say, the Clearwater Hot Club, Savoy and crew rarely land on a bum note: You're in for quite the hot summer night with this disc in tow.
Finally, if you believe in your heart of hearts that Zach Braff truly deserved a Grammy for his wholly overrated "Garden State" soundtrack, then Cary Brothers' "Who You Are" is for you. If you liked the singer/songwriter's track "Blue Eyes" there, on that compilation of dreary music for tools, you'll like it here (as an unlisted bonus track) -- as well as the rest of his safe-sounds-for-soccer-moms tracks. (Although, I must admit, if you can tolerate groups like Big Country, "The Last One" isn't half-bad.)