EDIT 15/02/09: Choc, that impish Frenchman, decided to give his album a new cover picture and change his song titles. This resulted, through the magic of the internet, in Jamendo's mp3 player linking to a completely different album by a completely different artist. I've amended my review accordingly. Apologies for the confusion caused to CTW's already addled readers. I think Choc caused my wonderful, peerless website all this trouble because Britain refuses to adopt the Euro, dress well, eat decent food and have civilised working hours. C'est la vie. (By the way, I didn't crop the album's title on the photo of a woman enjoying the glamour of modern travel. It seems that it's not a Choc album unless there's a typo somewhere. Zut alors, mon ami!)
CTW's next selection was going to be something funky and sassy just so I could thumb my nose at Beethoven but fate had other plans. A recent article by Joe Queenan in The Guardian, "Admit It, You're As Bored As I Am", lamenting new classical music, and Tom Service's response, the Douglas Adams-tinged* "Why Joe Queenan Is Wrong About New Classical Music", got me thinking about the state of modern classical music. I love Nixon in China by John Adams and some stuff by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Philip Glass, but my personal filter tends to stop most "classical" stuff written after the 1960s. Mea culpa.
I'd love to know what music journalists, academics and everyday music fans think of Sound Object Deconditioning. In my humble opinion, Choc's five-track EP combines piano and strings with glitchy percussion, ambient noises and stuttering edits to produce an enthralling listen. Each track could bear the term "composition". That doesn't mean they're boring - listening to them is like being captivated by something beautiful. Pretend you're Nicolas Sarkozy. Heh.
The new (see start of review) song titles are less unweidly than before, although they still don't trip off the tongue. But who cares? It's the music that matters, and this collection of clear-headed, melodically strong ambient-ish electronica is entertaining enough to overcome mere words such as Eigenvalue Subspace Decomposition, Mimesis Algorithm, Final Breath, Digital Requiem, and Zion City. Mimesis Algorithm, which I've already raved about, is a slight retooling of its earlier version; it's still excellent although I'm not sure about the new guitar part. I suppose we all prefer our first kiss.
[Et Voila! Now with whiter-than-white Jamendo player. Listen to the first two - two, not one - minutes of track 1, Eigenvalue Subspace Decomposition, and see if it tickles your fancy. Please note (15/02/09), this album has just been reloaded at Jamendo so you may have to wait until the 16th Feb before it's ready for downloading.]
So, can we call this music serious, art or classical? "Art music" and "serious music" are specious terms, in my opinion. Strictly speaking, the term "classical" applies to music written between 1730 and 1820; Mahler, Stravinsky and the like are labelled classical for the sake of convenience. What to call this stuff? It's good modern music. What more need be said?
...er, nothing really, except: Choc's album is a free Creative Commons release, but please think about donating something, however massive small, so as to say thank you and to encourage him to keep producing music of this quality. The noble Jamendo website makes it easy to donate via the album's release page.
Choc - Sound Object Deconditioning (link to zipped album and individual mp3s)
Jamendo (repository for over 14,000 free Creative Commons albums)
*as in: "Not only is (The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy) a wholly remarkable book, it is...more controversial than Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?"