Anti-Social Music - Sings The Great American Songbook
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Anti-Social Music
Sings The Great American Songbook

Anti-Social Music is chamber music created by a bunch of friends (many of which are in different groups) that would most likely scare the beejeebus out of most people who attend usual chamber concerts. It's not that they're scary people or even Anti-Social, it's just that their music is infused with a punk rock sensibility. This isn't even close to the Rachel's, it's wild, avant classical stuff where you're just as likely to hear a bombastic guitar riff as you are a pretty piano melody. I can imagine the members of the collective all showing up to a concert hall with their instruments and non-matching tuxedos (some powder blue or dark red), cumberbunds and bow ties disheveled, rolling a keg of beer in for the conductor to stand on.

My description might be quite a bit off, as I've never seen the group play, but once Sings The Great American Songbook starts spinning, you get the feeling it could go in just about any direction (and often does). The long "Fracture II" opens the release, and the title might as well describe the entire album. The eleven minute song opens with some dramatic and banging piano playing before an almost Slayer-ish guitar riff splits it open and a haunted-house string quartet pops out the other side with horns blaring. Eventually, it moves into another pretty piano section before more quick riffs displace it again and into an almost folky acoustic guitar and voice singalong. By then, it's about three-quarters done, and the freaky strings and other random noises fight one another until the end.

The rest of the album veers between long songs broken into shorter individual sections and even longer free-standing pieces. "Hero Cops & Olympic Gold (Symphonasm #1)" is three short pieces that add up to about five minutes total, and they range from rollicking piano-driven chase music to introspective and somber interludes. "Song" is all strings and voices, and despite the rough charm (of the vocals especially) comes across like some sort of a community theater troupe trying to do a Steve Reich piece (but not quite pulling it off).

There's no fighting the off kilter pacing of the album, though, as the group seems to almost embrace juxtaposing odd-fitting pieces as much as they possibly can. "Seven Songs Of Zen, Love and Longing" is just what the title states, and with a total running length of about seven minutes, the spoken (yelled) word vocals and wildly-veering musical backdrops come across like beat poetry on acid goes to the local symphony. You even get a breath-filled (which is oddly entertaining) solo flute piece called "Breakbeat" that yes, sounds like it might be someone trying to play a breakbeat on a flute. Such is about par for the course in the weird, wild world of Anti-Social Music. If you're looking for something completely strange and sometimes oddly compelling, this one might be right up your alley.

rating: 610
Aaron Coleman 2006-01-12 21:24:21