Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra - s/t
(Pax Recordings 2002, PR90254)
From Aural Innovations #21 (October 2002)
Electro-Magnetic Trans-Personal Orchestra is a San Francisco based ensemble led by Aaron Bennett on woodwinds and drinking straw and augmented by Mark Chung on violin, Jeff Hobbs on violin, Merlin Coleman on cello, Adam Lane on cello, George Cremaschi on bass, Joe Sabella on tuba, Dan Cantrell on accordian, and John Finkbeiner on guitar and alto saxophone. (I'm not sure what the drinking straw does but according to Bennett's web site he has recorded an entire CD with it.) The music was composed using a notation system developed by Bennett which allows him to give musical directions while still allowing the musicians to improvise within a given structure (see Bennett's web site for examples).
The CD consists of four tracks simply titled "C", "D", "E" and "B". At 20 minutes "C" is the longest. The most striking aspect of the music is the way the rhythmic pulse lumbers along while the ensemble performs in an elusively busy chamber style. "D" begins as a jazz piece with the violin filling what in standard jazz would be a horn role. But it soon transitions back into a more classically oriented chamber style with the violins still playing the lead, briefly supported by an operatic chanting voice. "E" and "B" are the most interesting, varied, and lively of the four pieces, featuring more energetic and adventurous performances by the musicians. On "E" the music still resides within a classical orchestra framework, while on "B" it's more jazz based with hints of avant-rock. Overall I hear lots of good ideas and enjoyed the music though repeated listens failed to open the music up further or reveal any hidden subtleties.
For more information you can visit the Pax Records web site at: http://www.paxrecordings.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Pax Recordings; PO Box 591138; San Francisco, CA 94159-1138.
For more information about Aaron Bennett and his projects visit: http://www.aarondavidbennett.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz