A Clutch of Collectives

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collective

adjective

  1. Done by people acting as a group.
    “a collective protest”

noun

  1. A cooperative enterprise.
    “the anarchist collective and bookshop”

What’s the collective noun for ‘collective’? Wiktionary defines a ‘catch’ of ‘collective nouns’ but is silent on ‘collective’ itself. I need to know because this week I want to bring to your attention two new releases by bands calling themselves a collective, and that happy coincidence has given me a flimsy theme for this post. I considered stealing ‘catch’ but that lacks imagination. ‘Collective’ is too obvious and too cute. So, as you can see, I’ve gone for ‘clutch’, which seems appropriate for small numbers like two.

The bands in question are Lydian Collective and Echo Collective. Neither of them has reached the Crotchety ears before so let’s see what that great collection of knowledge known as the Internet says about them.

lydian collective

Lydian Collective

From the About page on the Lydian Collective‘s website:

London’s Lydian Collective are … Aaron ‘Lazslo’ Wheeler (keys), Todd Baker (guitar), Ida Hollis (bass) and Sophie Alloway (drums).

The Lydian Collective sound is a unique combination of accessible melodies, accomplished musicianship, hypnotic rhythms and an uplifting vibe, which has already been drawing in audiences from around the world. A unique combination of jazz musicianship, melodies that catch the ear and the heart, and infectious rhythms …

I’ve tagged them as ‘cocktail jazz’ because their fine musicianship would draw me into the hotel bar, the infectious rhythms would sit me down and those easy-on-the-ear melodies would keep me there for just one more cherry on a cocktail stick. Or two. And if you care to join me I know the evening will just fly by.

echo collective

Echo Collective

Let me get you another Martini and I’ll tell you about Echo Collective. They are Neil Leiter, Margaret Hermant and a few of their musician friends. This Belgian-based collective brings together classically trained musicians who work with modern composers and bands as well as writing their own compositions. There doesn’t seem to be an accepted name for their style of music; it has been called post-classical, neo-classical and non-classical but I think of it as ‘classical crossover’. The instruments are orchestral but the form and structure is twenty first century. The short sample I’m giving you today, though, illustrates their approach better than any words I can write.

Kurt Overbergh of the Ancienne Belgique concert hall commissioned Echo Collective to reinterpret one of Radiohead‘s albums – either Kid A or Amnesiac. According to Leiter they chose the latter because it “had more layers, more complexity, was a little more esoteric, so there was more to chew on and add our sound to”. The result was released as the album, Echo Collective Plays Amnesiac, which gathers together all but one of the Radiohead album tracks and presents them in orchestral form. Does it work? I think so but I hope you’ll judge for yourselves.

Although both Collectives have some videos on YouTube neither of the tracks I’m highlighting today are there so I’ve put together a Spotify playlist. Track 2 is Lydian Collective‘s Lydia’s Dream then there is the original Radiohead version of Knives Out followed by Echo Collective‘s orchestral interpretation of that track.

In a fit of generosity (perhaps it’s your company, perhaps it’s the cocktails) I’ve added three bonus tracks, all of which were in my Release Radar this week. Groove of Satan from Owane‘s Yeah Whatever album provides a short, proggy/jazzy introduction and tacked on at the end there are two slower ballads: Copenhagen by Camille Christel continues the chamber orchestra feel and The Echo of You by Kira Skov and Bonnie “Prince” Billy sounds like a lost Leonard Cohen track, so much so that it even quotes the title of Dance Me To The End of Love in the lyrics.

Some collective nouns are peculiar, some are startlingly apt and some are wildly amusing. Although it’s not official I very much like a flamboyance of flamingos. Then there’s a yearning of yesterdays, a twinkling of todays and a promise of tomorrows. There are plenty more to savour here. Sadly, though, that page doesn’t list a clutch of collectives.

Bolek i Lolek

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Nearly a year ago now Crotchety Man got very excited about a band/project called Hidden Orchestra. Regular readers will remember my review of the album Archipelago in which I introduced the term “orchestral beats” to describe the music of Joe Acheson and his collaborators. Since then there has been one other post in these pages tagged “orchestral beats” (Cantorum by Penguin Café) and the next Album of the Month will be on Feathers, a solo album with a similar feel by another member of Hidden Orchestra, the violinist and pianist, Poppy Ackroyd.

But, first, I want to bring your attention to the orchestral beat music from Clarinet Factory. Please don’t be put off when I tell you that Clarinet Factory is a clarinet quartet from the Czech Republic. All four players are classically trained and they draw on a wide range of influences from Bach through to jazz and other forms of modern music. They adapt and interpret other composers’ work; they also write their own pieces. And sometimes they add voice, percussion and electronics. (Now you’re taking notice, aren’t you?)

Where Hidden Orchestra‘s sound relies heavily on electronic instruments Clarinet Factory create very modern music almost entirely from traditional instruments. Just listen to what they can do with four clarinets and a few recorded natural sounds in this YouTube clip of a track from their latest album, Meadows, released in March of this year.

If you were paying attention you will have noticed a direct connection between Hidden Orchestra and Clarinet Factory – Joe Acheson is credited on the video. My guess is that Joe provided the recordings of the trains and the bees that he mentions on Facebook and he may well have had a hand in producing the record.

Judging by their concert schedule Clarinet Factory are reasonably well-known in the Czech Republic. They have also performed in a number of other European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Israel) and even in China and Japan. As far as I know, though, they have never visited the U.S. Perhaps that’s just as well because I have a feeling they may find it hard to find an audience over there.

on stage

Clarinet Factory – WOMEX 2015

Crotchety Man’s knowledge of the Czech language is non-existent so I don’t know what Bolek i Lolek means. Google translate tells me that the equivalent English is something like “Bolek i Lolek”, which I interpret as a polite way of saying that my request indicates a level of intelligence slightly below that of a snail. So what picture, I wondered, should head up this post? Well, that troublesome track title sounds like a double act to me: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That sort of thing.

So that, if you were wondering, explains the little slide show at the top of this post.