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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Sara Schoenbeck

Sara Schoenbeck

Review by Gary Hill

Sara Schoenbeck plays bassoon. This album finds her teaming up with various musicians to create unusual sonic tapestries. There is quite a bit of range here, but it is all largely freeform. This is definitely art music, so I think it firmly fits under the prog rock heading. Other than the closer, this is all instrumental, too.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
O’Saris with Harris Eisenstadt - Drums
Coming in tentative, but also noisy, this is art music of the rather freeform variety. It works forward in this sort of freaky, yet cool, fashion. It eventually works to more of full jazz arrangement, but it's no less unusual and experimental.
Sand Dune Trilogy with Nicole Mitchell - Flute
A classy jazz meets classical exploration, there is still a real freeform sense to this piece.
Lullaby with Nels Cline - Electric Guitar and Electric Bass
Coming in rather dramatically, this works out with a melody that's a little more mainstream at first. The cut works forward in a very artistic and creative way. This really has more of a rocking element to it, clearly leaning toward shoegaze at times. It gets quite involved and powerful as it builds forward.
Chordata with Roscoe Mitchell - Soprano Saxophone
The construction of this piece is, if anything even stranger. There are sparse passages, weird noisy elements and more built into this. It's more of a pure jazz based thing than the song that preceded it, but it also has a lot of freaky weirdness.
Augur Strokes with Matt Mitchell Piano
In some ways this is more melodic. In others it is every bit as tastefully weird as the rest of the stuff here. I really love some of the crazed piano work on this thing. At over 11-minutes long, this is the epic of the set, and that time is put to good use as this is the most dynamic thing here, showcasing a lot of moods.
Absence with Mark Dresser - Bass
I dig the freeform jazz vibe of this cut. It has some particularly tasty sections, while still maintaining its experimental nature.
Anaphoria with Wayne Horvitz - Piano and Electronics
There are some unsettling things about this track. It feels like uneasy music to a film through some of its run. Classical music seems to be a big part of the concept.
Suspend A Bridge with Peggy Lee - Cello
While not a big change, this is a dramatic and freaky tune. It's also freakishly interesting.
Sugar with Robin Holcomb - Piano and Voice
With a lot of classical music in the mix, this is the only piece here to have vocals. This has a more "song-like" structure afforded by the singing, but it's no less creative and unusual.
 
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