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(40:54; 7D Media)
This the debut album by Crystal Beth, the alter ego of clarinettist Beth Fleenor. As Crystal Beth she performs both solo using loop pedals and delays, and with a five-piece rock outfit (the Boom Boom Band) to craft music which is idiosyncratic in the extreme. For this album she recorded the album in just two days of live performances, providing vocals, amplified clarinet, bass clarinet, Line 6 DL4, Boxx RC20XL Loop Station, and the result is something which if the music was a person there would be debates as to what type of mental illness they were suffering from (certainly schizophrenia, but lots more beside). When she plays clarinet, it is often a thing of beauty, especially as she lets the harmonies build against each other with the loops. She is an in-demand performer in that field and has been featured on recordings with polymaths including Wayne Horvitz, Jherek Bischoff, and Julie Slick, as well as performing with the likes of David Byrne, Terry Riley, Butch Morris, Bobby Previte, Trey Gunn. I pride myself on having some of the most eclectic tastes of anyone I know, happily moving from folk to brutal death metal, grindcore, acoustic blues, jazz, and anything in between. But I must confess I have had real issues with this. There is no doubt of her skills and abilities, and the production is great, but this is just too anarchic for me. There are passages where I love it, and others where I am just at a loss. I just don’t “get it” but have kept playing it in the vain attempt to break through whatever barrier there is, to no avail. Maybe it is the beatbox vocals which take place at times, or the oriental style screams which keep reminding me of Yoko Ono (I don’t like her music either), but at the end of the day one has to stop poking hot pokers into the ears and give up. It’s not for me, yet for those who want their music to be experimental and sometimes breaking the definition of what music actually is, then maybe this is for you.
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