tue 25/04/2017

CD: Snarky Puppy and Metropole Orkest - Sylva | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Snarky Puppy and Metropole Orkest - Sylva

CD: Snarky Puppy and Metropole Orkest - Sylva

Ambitious and imaginative US-Dutch collaboration thrills at every turn

When it finally arrives, the big theme of 'The Clearing' presents one of the most unforgettable melodies you'll hear this year
Michael League's woodland odyssey

From fulsome, modally inflected string lines (“Sintra”) to the funkiest of New Orleans brass grooves (“Atchafalaya”), this first major label album from Grammy-winning, NYC-based collective Snarky Puppy, paired here with Holland's crack Metropole Orkest under their principal conductor Jules Buckley, is a brilliantly arranged and artfully executed tour de force.

Penned by Snarky Puppy bassist and bandleader, Michael League, while on tour with the band, each of the album's six movements was inspired by a different forest he has spent time in, from the swamps of Louisiana and giant redwoods of northern California to the nightmarish version of childhood dreams.

Whether it's the colossal block chords of “Gretel” or the multipartite “The Curtain” – practically a suite within a suite which takes the listener on a journey from luxuriant, tintinnabulating textures à la Steve Reich and Cory Henry's energizing Moog solo to the classical rhapsodising of pianist Bill Laurance – this ambitious and imaginative woodland odyssey thrills at every turn. And when it finally arrives, the big theme of “The Clearing” presents one of the most unforgettable melodies you'll hear this year.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the orchestra plays its heart out

As League revealed in his theartsdesk Q&A, he customised the Metropole Orkest by replacing oboes, bassoons and other mid-high range instruments with additional low brass and strings, plus bass and contrabass clarinets, to achieve a grittier overall sound, not to mention quite substantial heft. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the orchestra plays its heart out while displaying complete consanguinity with League's changing soundscapes and time feels.

Recorded and filmed live in Dordrecht, Netherlands, at Het Energiehuis over two nights, with absolutely no studio jiggery-pokery, the accompanying live DVD lets you join the 300 lucky souls who witnessed the recording.

Overleaf: Watch the official trailer for Sylva

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