al­bum re­views

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Cold Cave’s ‘Icons of Sum­mer’ is a pop epic in the over­dra­matic ’80s tra­di­tion, com­plete with Mor­ris­sey-es­que lyrics.

AM­S­TER­DAM KLEZMER BAND Katla (Es­say Record­ings)

Imag­ine what it would sound like if snarky punk act Dead Milk­men mor­phed into a Dutch Gypsy-folk act, and you’ll be a step closer to un­der­stand­ing the wit, wis­dom, and tal­ent of the Am­s­ter­dam Klezmer Band. Formed in 1996 by sax­o­phon­ist Job Cha­jes, AKB presents a col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal tunes on its lat­est al­bum that runs the gamut from fast-tempo klezmer dit­tys like “Geen Sores” to the slower, çiftetelli

rhythm-kissed “Toi.” Katla ex­am­ines themes as var­ied as Ital­ian pain­ter Bellini’s muse (“Ni­colosia”), the beauty of aging (“Marusja”), and drown­ing one’s sor­rows (“Naie Kashe”). In “Go­gol Mo­gol,” AKB rails against vis­i­tors to Am­s­ter­dam who head straight for the hashish cafés: “ Wher­ever he’s from, once in Am­s­ter­dam, he’ll go straight to the Red Light District’s cof­fee shops and, not so straight, back to his bed-and-break­fast. There he will col­lapse on his cot. Look! There’s the smar­tass; he only wants to smoke hashish.” De­liv­er­ing a klezmer stew that blends Scan­di­na­vian, Ger­man, and Ro­ma­nian folk tra­di­tions, the seven-piece AKB doesn’t shoot for re­gional au­then­tic­ity. If that’s your pref­er­ence, look else­where for your simkhe sound­track. How­ever, if you ap­pre­ci­ate solid mu­si­cian­ship, this en­sem­ble’s play­ing, es­pe­cially the horns, will blow your moyekh. Be­sides, who can’t love an al­bum named af­ter an Ice­landic vol­cano that’s named af­ter a myth­i­cal kitchen maid who mur­ders a shep­herd for steal­ing her mag­i­cal pants? — Rob DeWalt

Mu­sic for a Royal Wed­ding (Silva Screen Records)

For five and a half months, you counted down the min­utes to the royal wed­ding. You got up in the mid­dle of the night to watch the simul­cast on BBC Amer­ica. And now it’s over, just like that. You could sink into de­pres­sion and in­gest huge quan­ti­ties of old Madeira and spot­ted dick. Or you could take ac­tion to keep the magic in this mar­riage alive, in which case Silva Screen Records is here to help you. It has as­sem­bled (as the press re­lease states) “a hand-picked se­lec­tion of the won­der­ful and un­for­get­table mu­sic from past royal wed­dings.” The hands that did the pick­ing showed a sure in­stinct for the artis­tic mid­dle-ground, in­cor­po­rat­ing snip­pets from the sound­tracks of Brave­heart and the Baz Luhrmann-di­rected Romeo

+ Juliet (movie scores are Silva Screen’s spe­cialty), not to men­tion the “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Web­ber’s Re­quiem, “sung by Bri­tain’s most pop­u­lar so­prano, Les­ley Gar­rett.” (I can’t fig­ure out which roy­als in­cluded those items in their wed­ding playlists, but re­search­ing it can be part of your ther­apy.) Men­delssohn, Wagner, El­gar, Wal­ton, and other old friends make pre­dictable ap­pear­ances, and var­i­ous or­ches­tras and mil­i­tary bands bring their sturdy shoul­ders to the wheel. Break out that set of Wil­liam and Kate pa­per dolls you bought, fire up the CD player, and Bob’s your un­cle.

— James M. Keller

COLD CAVE

Cher­ish the Light Years

(Mata­dor Records)

Welsey Eisold be­gan his mu­sic ca­reer in hard­core bands be­fore switch­ing to lowkey syn­th­pop with Cold Cave’s 2009 de­but. Cher­ish the Light Years splits the dif­fer­ence be­tween both ap­proaches, ramp­ing up the elec­tropop tempo and fir­ing it in bold new di­rec­tions. The band tears out of the gate on the first two tracks, marked by fe­ro­cious drum­ming and Eisold singing in such a fash­ion that you pic­ture him grip­ping the mi­cro­phone in an ag­gres­sive stance sim­i­lar to Henry Rollins, even if his voice comes across more like The Cure’s Robert Smith. Af­ter those tracks, he slows things down for “Con­fetti,” a glit­tery, mid-tempo num­ber with a strut­ting beat, high synths streak­ing across the sky like neon stream­ers, and ma­te­ri­al­is­tic lyrics like “I feel guilty be­ing alive while so many beau­ti­ful peo­ple have died” and “You look so good on the out­side.” If this song doesn’t get ma­jor play at New York’s Fash­ion Week, then Eisold should sue some­body. The band re­cap­tures that magic two songs later on “Icons of Sum­mer,” a pop epic in the over­dra­matic ’80s tra­di­tion, com­plete with the Mor­riseyesque open­ing line “Sea­sons change, and pas­sions change, and I live in a city with no sea­sons and pas­sions at all.” Those two songs are the twin tow­ers of an al­bum that can get tiring and can sound tinny with all the high synths and com­pressed pro­duc­tion, but ul­ti­mately con­tains a full fire­works dis­play of pop plea­sures. — Robert B. Ker

THE COOK­ERS Cast the First Stone ( Plus Loin)

The sec­ond al­bum by The Cook­ers fea­tures sax­o­phon­ists Billy Harper, Craig Handy, and Azar Lawrence; trum­pet play­ers Ed­die Hen­der­son and David Weiss; pi­anist Ge­orge Ca­bles; bassist Ce­cil McBee; and drum­mer Billy Hart. These are jazz big-lea­guers in their own rights, but it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to con­sider even a sam­pling of the tal­ent that’s be­ing chan­neled in this mu­sic: Gil Evans, Lee Mor­gan, Jaki Byard, John Coltrane, Betty Carter, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Joe Hen­der­son, Jackie McLean, Jimmy Smith — an im­mense reg­is­ter of jazz gi­ants The Cook­ers’ band mem­bers have jammed with over the past 50 years. The re­sult of all that time-brewed chem­istry is a hard-bop fest. The ti­tle track is by Harper, and the brawny-toned tenor player is up front right off the bat. In the liner notes, Weiss men­tions the band’s “play hard and mean it” aes­thetic. This song is a good ex­am­ple, al­though the al­bum also of­fers a fair range of dy­nam­ics. McBee crafts an en­gag­ing solo in his airy “Peace­maker,” which also boasts fine work by Hen­der­son and Handy (best known for his work with the new Min­gus bands). Lawrence, on so­prano, burns beau­ti­fully on Ca­bles’ “Look­ing for the Light.” This and the pi­anist’s other piece, “ Think on Me,” pro­vide some mild con­trast to heav­ier songs like “ Cast the First Stone” and the closer, Harold Mabern’s “The Chief.” Over­all, this is an ex­hil­a­rat­ing al­bum. — Paul Wei­de­man

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