lyell does well
Lyell Cresswell: mastering the difficult )obs
The RSNO is not a frequent visitor to these pages as far as previewing commissions is concerned, but an imaginative collaboration between the orchestra and the Yggdrasil Quartet of Aberdeen puts that to rights with the forthcoming ﬁrst performance of a new work, quite unambiguously titled Concerto For Orchestra And String Quarter by Lyell Cresswell. The piece has been commissioned by the City of Aberdeen, where the Swedish quartet are currently in residence at the University of Aberdeen.
New Zealand born, but resident in Scotland for many years, Lyell Cresswell has a string of impressive. large-scale orchestral commissions to his name. including two for the RSNO. but this is the ﬁrst time he has written for this particular combination. ‘My last concerto was for classical accordion and next is one for trombone. but there are none that l know of for symphony orchestra and string quartet. I‘ve never heard one,‘ he explains. ‘lt’s certainly a very appealing idea, but you see. I get all the difﬁcult jobs.‘
The way Cresswell has tackled the concerto is to write it in one continuous movement, but structured in eleven sections. ‘There‘s colourful orchestral writing, with solo sections for players within the orchestra. For instance, the ﬁrst is the trumpet player who announces the main material the piece is based on. It‘s ﬁve minutes — the piece is about 25 minutes in length — before the string quartet is heard together. They‘re introduced gradually in various combinations so there is a progression from individual soloists. through dialogue among the four players, to a unanimous voice.‘ The structure is organised and identiﬁable, although complex, but. says Cresswell ‘the thing to stress is that it all becomes clear when you hear it.‘ (Carol Main) The RSNO and the Yggdrasil Quartet of Aberdeen play Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Thurs 6 Feb; Usher Hall. Edinburgh. Fri 7 Feb.
marm- Daft funk
They’re French. They ain’t daft and they ain’t punk. Doom, boom! llowever, they do rock. But in a dance kind of way.
if you need your faith in the power of dance music restored then look no further than Daft Punk and their astonishing new album (see review). Their debut long player Homework (Virgin) reveals extraordinary talent from 21-year-old Thomas Bangaltar and his 22-year-old fellow Frenchman Guy-Manuel De llomem Dhristo.
Their initial output, released on respected Glasgow dance indie Soma, had A & ii men in a cheque book frenzy. In 1994, they unleashed ‘Da Funk’, their first single, a dangerously funky statement of intent. Dirty Chemicals beats swaggered over searing acid noises and a monster Dueen-lsh (‘Another One Bites The Dust’) bass hook. it destroyed dancetloors and heads across the country.
Why are they so good? Primarily because what they do is so original and secondly because everything they
touch turns into a giant piece of gold- plated funk. They have effectively taken the traditional house rulebook, stolen its best bits, ripped it up, pissed on it and tossed it into obllivion.
What do they sound like? Think funk, more funk and then more funk. They’re funky guys. They make big, funky beats and back them with huge funky bassiines. Simple really. Some of the tracks are house, some verge on techno, others reveal a hip hop edge and a deep love of disco. Above all, it’s funky throughout. They list their
Daft Punk: slam dunk the funk
influences as ranging from Curtis Hayfield to Dr Dre, liendrix and Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzales, all very different characters, but all with the prerequisite funk factor.
As we head into 1997, rest assured that dance music is safe in the hands of true innovators like Daft Punk. With their attitude and their incendary live shows they have made what will surely be one of the most original and important albums of the year. (.lim Byers)
Daft Punk play Slam, The Arches, Glasgow, Fri 24 Jan.
um— Faith no more?
Rock is dead! Long live the new rock! Phil Miller separates the men from the Satanic goats and asks whether rock will rise again.
It's odd what you can ﬁnd lurking deep in the musical underground. Heavy rock can still be found, ifyou look hard enough. it once ruled the world. Like. indeed, the dinosaurs. Some claim it still does. but no one really believes them.
‘Heavy metal. top of the class/stuff the media up your arse‘ was how the Comic Strip team satirised both the movement and most of the media’s attitude to it, but for nearly a decade it was indeed ‘top of the class.‘ Heavy rock took over from hazy hippydom and sleazy country-rock in the early 70s as the preferred music choice for young, itchingly male types everywhere. The Zep! The Sabbath! The Purps! They rocked! They frazzled your ears and pumped the blood around
your body faster than any rivals could compete with. What they led to. however, was far. far. worse: The Scorpions? The Tygers ()f Pan Tang? W*A*S*P? Awful.
The whole scene was rightly scoured clean by the bleached nihilism of grunge. And laughed out of court by Spinal Tap. Now. like the hippies they replaced, the metallers are on the retreat. It‘s all gone pear-shaped, it seems, for the lovers ofa canny hook. a megaton riff. a howling vocal. See. heavy rock has had the rug pulled from under it. Want to feel really hard? Listen to The Prodigy or Metalheadz. Want to lose yourself in musical abandon? Trance. acid. deep house. ‘intelligent’ jungle/drum ‘n' bass all does that. beautifully. effortlessly.
No, the only real heavy rock survivors still around in any numbers these days are the bastard offspring of heavy metal complete with attendant death and doom imagery. The fearsome Metallica. The even more fearsome Sepultura. There are other types still running around in the musical undergrowth. with names like Cannibal Corpse. Carcass and Sodom. They tend to make music that sounds like someone throwing up in an echo-chamber. Unsurprisingly big with teenage boys.
Real rock. real hip-swinging. groove- n'ding rock a la Reef or Terrorvision, as opposed to the grunting of the heavy rockers, has now re-entered the
Judas Priest (lefththe unacceptable face of old-style heavy rock; and Bush (right): the less hirsute face of commercially successful hard rock
mainstream. but it's been on the back of Britpop. No one can claim Oasis don‘t rock. Or Kula Shaker. Or. even. The Chemical Brothers. They rock you 'til ya drop.
When indie was pallid and limp- wristed, when mainstream music was all airbrushed fake orgasms. heavy rock had its attractions. But it‘s dated badly. Irony is in. R ’n‘ B authenticity is in. Being smart. sharp. loaded is in. Screaming about squeezing lemons 'till thejuice runs down your leg is out.
Which makes the current. dying kicks of heaviness all the more painful. For example. Bush and Korn will soon be playing here in Scotland. Bush are plain awful; Korn are plain scary. Brit boys Bush are phenomenally big in the States. But then so are Hootie and the Blowﬁsh. Sharnelessly riding on the coattails of the last dance of grunge. Bush are as wracked and pained as any. oh. thirteen-year old. Their new album Razorblade Suitcase went straight to Number One in the States. Their last album sold millions of copies in the States. It has yet to sell l00.000 in the UK.
Despite the American‘s love of Bush’s earnest angst even the American rock bible Rolling Stone was recently moved to ask: ‘Three million albums. ﬁve hit singles — why won‘t anyone take Bush seriously'?‘ Because they’re laughable. They are poor ambassadors for a once ﬁne rock tradition. Their lead singer Gavin Rossdale tries to ape Cobain so much it's painful.
Their concert at the Barrowland will no doubt be packed out. But it doesn‘t mean anything at the moment. Heavy rock will not become extinct because it has a canny way of reinventing itself from time to time. At its best it's still nerve-jangling. exciting and raw. At the moment though. it looks dead on its Hi- Tech-covered feet. (Phil Miller)
Bus/r play The Arches. Glasgow. Sun 2
'Fel); Korn play Barrowland. Glasgom
Fri 24 Jan.
40 The List 24 Jan-6 Feb l997