In this Sunday evening round-up of three tracks from Soundcloud, Scandinavians have the lion’s share, while the odd man out is in effect a bleublancrouge trans-Atlantic collaboration.
From the band of Danish and American musicians known as Hess Is More who commute between Copenhagen and New York, under the leadership of the multi-talented Mikkel Hess, a new album is set for an imminent release, and so, as a taste of what may be expected, in the tune “Bearsong” one encounters a single line of blank verse accompanied by a daydream of music in which disparate elements of instrumentation are artfully juxtaposed, in a mix that is both brooding and dreamy, and over which there hovers just a slight hint of warning. One ignores the claws at one’s own peril.
Entering the second year of its second century in 2014 is Erik Satie’s trilogy of “Embryons desséchés,” and the eccentric sense of humor in them has been drawn out and accentuated further in an arrangement for four toy pianos by an adventurous multi-instrumentalist in Philadelphia, Mark Zelesky; one imagines the Satie himself would have smiled at this transposition, for these tones warble like a music-box or a musical clock sending forth its figurines on their hourly jaunts, or indeed “comme un rossignol qui aurait mal aux dents,” much as per his own unique instruction.
The third track this evening hails from Iceland, and is the work of the composer Þórður Magnússon (or, in the standard non-Icelandic orthography, Thordur Magnusson). Entitled simply “Saxophonequartet,” it was performed live a couple of years ago at a festival in his country called, fittingly enough, Myrkir Músíkdagar (“Dark Music Days”) by the Icelandic Saxophone Quartet, and his writing for these instruments does not disappoint: together they are moody and funny all at once.