I had planned to take some time off from writing Sellaband articles for a while. I had the distinct feeling that this blog was being perceived as having official ties to the organization, or that I was in some way attempting to endear myself by writing articles which cast too positive a light on a music marketing system still involved in working out its organizational kinks.
Well...FUCK THAT! I write what I write and tonight It's going to be about Sellaband. And if you don't want to read another review here's a link to some fart noises. Have a ball!
Now, before I get to the artist of the evening, let me explain that my personal tastes read like the menu at Jerry's Famous Deli. I started as an eighth grade garage musician, studied ethnic music at the East West Center in Honolulu, Renaissance music in Vienna, Jazz with Monty Budwig, blah blah blah. My first love is the music of Brahms, and I'm a Motown freak. I've been around great singers, musicians and songwriters for thirty years.
I enjoy music from the inside out and it is from this vantage point that my observations are made. My opinion is no more valid than the guy living in the dumpster behind the supermarket nor less valid than the Pope's. I prefer to write about things I like and leave the negative comments to the pros. And when I write my impressions of an artist's work, I mean every word.
Tonight's guest of honor is a most interesting artist working in Portugal who goes by the name of The Average Person. TAP is not a writer of pop songs but rather a serious composer who demands full attention of the listener. A receptive mind and disregard for the usual genrephobic comparisons, difficult for genuine "average" persons, are essential listening tools if one is to appreciate the striking soundscapes created by this artist. This is indeed music at another level and some listeners may require program notes when attempting to make their way from one end of a track to the other. I don't see that as being a detriment, as program notes are quite common in the opera house or concert hall and this music would most definitely feel at home in such a venue.
The song "Fugitive" unfolds in a most visual way. My first impression was the memory of walking down the hallway of the practice room wing at college. On a busy day, every step would be a fresh turn of the musical kaleidoscope as you walked past the rooms of practicing students. But within seconds, the image changed. I almost smelled cigar smoke and felt as though I were listening to the last few moments of finger loosening before the tango ensemble counted off the first song of the evening. But the "uno, due, tre..." is not forthcoming. Suddenly I realize that The Average Person has caused me to" feel" more in ten seconds than most music can squeeze out of me with repeated listenings.
The Average Person demonstrates a high level of accomplishment in putting his visions to sound. His work is a collage of traditional orchestral instruments very skillfully punctuated by seemingly arrhythmic percussion motifs. He uses the human voice, in this case, that of the extremely talented and flexible Chris Tanzi, as another instrument which just happens to have the power of words in its musical vocabulary. The result is 3 minutes and 55 seconds of raw, gut-wrenching emotion that may be uncomfortable, and may be difficult to digest for some. But the listener free of prejudicial expectations will experience a remarkable journey into the depths of a most creative musical mind.
The Average Person's three tracks on Sellaband are collaborations with vocal artists also on the Sellabend roster. There is the above mentioned "Fugitive" featuring Chris Tanzi, "Drift Away" with Outrance singing a vocal track that could hold its own with Peter Pears, and "Only If" with the voice of conscience hauntingly performed by Kane Sol. Three pieces that provide very distinct images but with the soul of a distinctly unaverage person woven throughout.
Whenever I listen to an artist, I can't help but wonder what influences may have served to hammer a style out of the original raw materials. In the case of The Average Person, the music itself holds the answer. One dark, moonless night, his craft took a wrong turn and crash-landed into an abandoned warehouse full of musical instruments. Thinking the instruments and electronic recording devices may be helpful in repairing his craft, The Average Person tinkered away but to no avail...at least as far as repairs to the saucer were concerned. What we hear are the results of that tinkering. This guy is not from here, he just ran out of dilithium crystal. But he's here now and that's all that counts.
I have to be honest, I had a hard time starting to listen to The Average Person...but now I find it much harder to stop.