David Chesworth Ensemble
Double CD $30 inc postage
Featuring Badlands Suite and Lacuna Suite
Badlands Suite, is based on excerpts from Carl Orff's Musica Poetica, which David heard on the soundtrack for Terrence Malick's film Badlands. Later he bought a recording of Orff's Schulwerk, performed by German school children, and loved the uncomplicated nature of the repeating motifs and a certain unnerving quality that reminded him, in some ways, of his own music. The connection was strong enough for him to embark on the reworking of two excerpts from each work, which resulted in Badlands Suite.
The recording is simple and immediate. Each listening, however, opens the ears to the complex interplay lurking below." ‘Trombone, strings, piano and tuned percussion combine with crackling telephone transmissions, far-away bells, pan pipes played by the desert wind and barely-in-control electronic effects in a work that is beautiful, vivid, narcotic and seriously habit forming.
CD1 track list:
Badlands Suite 1 (from Musica Poetica)
Badlands Suite 2 (Das Schulwerk I 106 #20, 21)
Badlands Suite 3 (from Musica Poetica)
Badlands Suite 4 (Das Schulwerk IV 72c)
Good Evening Everyone
Bells of Leipzig
This is Nothing New
An Anxious Moment
CD2 track list:
Bleddyn Butcher - The Wire
The David Chesworth Ensemble’s Badlands harks back to Carl Orff’s Musica Poetica, as used in Terrence Malick’s directorial debut, Badlands (1973). Together with pieces from Orff’s Das Schulwerk, he adapts it to the sonorities of his own ensemble: violin, cello, bass, trombone, percussion (notably piano and vibes) and keyboards. It’s an odd combination. The tonal palette stretches from extreme syrup to squeak: the trombone blares, pianos rumble and the vibraphone plinks. Rousing themes are accompanied by a grumbling undertow or abruptly abandoned, while the piano bumbles like a bee at a windowpane; a searing lament is absorbed by the dinky tinkling of the music box it emerges from. The net effect is strangely euphonious.
The second part collects 14 Chesworth pieces as ‘The Lacuna Suite’. These are not so rambunctious as the Orff arrangements, and some bear passing comparison to the methods used by Essendon Airport 20 years before. A raindrop theme is thumbed on toy piano and fleshed out with legato violin; orchestral mutterings reach a mutinous pitch and are silenced by the trombone’s warthog roar; a series of preparatory pawings at the manuscript are run together like stammering speech.
Between these more or less arch interludes, longer pieces extend the study of contrasts used in The Badlands Suite’. Best of all is ‘Bells Of Leipzig’, where the bells clank like a cornershop door in a fitful wind. A cello enters briefly but the music is already somewhere else, long since departed, never to return. The loss is keenly felt, suggesting emotional wounds, psychic traumas and blighted landscapes. The devastation is irreparable.
Chesworth’s ability to suggest so much with so little vindicated his cerebral approach. Neither idle nor smug, his stratagems provoke and confound, stimulating both thought and feeling with the shock of a new aesthetic: penetrating restraint. Silence speaks volumes, uponatimes.
The road less travelled, the DIY skyway, may be a bumpier ride but at least you can see where you’re going. You might even remember where you’ve been. I’m booking my ticket now.