Clas­si­cal

A com­poser asks Don McGlashan, Nathan Haines and oth­ers to re­think her works.

New Zealand Listener - - CON­TENTS -

Eve de Cas­tro-Robin­son rethought at her own re­quest.

The lat­est al­bum from Auck­land-based com­poser Eve de Cas­tro-Robin­son, The Gris­tle of Knuck­les, bor­rows its ti­tle from the sav­age Melody Foren­sic by Amer­i­can poet Kyle Dar­gan.

De Cas­tro-Robin­son has bravely handed over nine ex­ist­ing com­po­si­tions to mu­si­cians, en­cour­ag­ing them in en­er­getic re-imag­in­ings of her mu­sic. There’s gris­tle, all right, but also skin, bone, laugh­ter, sweat and tears in a re­mark­able project that has im­pro­vi­sa­tion at its heart.

The in­spired match­ing of artists to works and the com­poser’s po­etic de­scrip­tions are part of the plea­sure. Of Nathan Haines’s ir­rev­er­ent ver­sion of Dog­gerel, which opens the disc, she writes, “Driv­ing a dirty dance, Nathan tames the bark­ing dog, lick­ing his chops and trot­ting and tap­ping a groovy line in lay­ered lev­ity.”

Genre cat­e­gories are nowhere in sight. Don McGlashan’s “vul­ner­a­ble, swoony croon” brings in­ti­macy to The long dream of wak­ing, his gui­tar the mu­si­cal can­vas orig­i­nally painted by vi­o­lin, clar­inet and piano for Len Lye’s words. ­Co­nunDRUMs, which was writ­ten for per­cus­sion­ist

Gareth Farr, be­comes a won­der­ful con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Ron Sam­som and Kings­ley Mel­huish on drum kit and taonga puoro re­spec­tively. De­laney David­son de­mands at­ten­tion with his gritty singing in another Lye set­ting, the blues Trou­ble, trou­ble mind.

The spir­i­tual power of Mere Boyn­ton’s voice floats from the mists in the vo­cal lament Hau. In con­trast, small blue is a driv­ing jazz im­pro­vi­sa­tion in en­er­getic show­ers of sound by pi­anist Kevin Field and Sam­som. Field re­turns for Pas­sion Flower, in the guise of piano-bar cliché though based on Dame Ethel Smyth’s The March of the Women from Bri­tish suf­fragette days.

The mul­ti­coloured sound pal­ette of sax­o­phon­ist Cal­lum Pas­sells il­lu­mi­nates Coun­ter­cur­rents from 1989 and leads us to Stum­bling Trains, a re­named remix of the com­poser’s Tum­bling Strains. Cel­list Ash­ley Brown’s bril­liant and pas­sion­ate per­for­mance is the most fist-clench­ing of the set – “as if he’s saw­ing the cello in half”, sug­gests de Cas­tro-Robin­son.

Key rings, a play­ful lit­tle found-sound coda by the com­poser and her co-pro­ducer, Steve Gar­den of Rat­tle, re­laxes the ten­sion and closes a disc of in­ven­tive sur­prises and ex­u­ber­ant mu­sic-mak­ing.

THE GRIS­TLE OF KNUCK­LES, Eve de Cas­troRobin­son (Rat­tle)

Nathan Haines: “a groovy line in lay­ered lev­ity.” Top, Don McGlashan.

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