Light

Light

by Ethel
     
 

If you're not sure what to expect from a string quartet that calls itself Ethel, the most sensible advice is simply to expect the unexpected. From one track to the next on Light, the group's second album for the wonderfully eclectic Cantaloupe Music label, you'll encounter Brazilian dance rhythms and Finnish fiddling, jazz licks and bluesSee more details below

Overview

If you're not sure what to expect from a string quartet that calls itself Ethel, the most sensible advice is simply to expect the unexpected. From one track to the next on Light, the group's second album for the wonderfully eclectic Cantaloupe Music label, you'll encounter Brazilian dance rhythms and Finnish fiddling, jazz licks and blues cadences, and a flawless classical technique in the service of rock 'n' roll energy. Like another of today's adventurous chamber ensembles, the Imani Winds, Ethel's musicians are not only performers but composers and arrangers as well: Their own work accounts for half of the music on Light. But as on their self-titled debut, Ethel also collaborates here with some of the boldest composers on the avant-garde scene. The album's furthest-out experiment, "Ethel Dreams of Temporal Disturbances," is full of electronic effects, samples of an Irving Berlin song, and the vocals -- reminiscent of Laurie Anderson's wry observations -- of composer Pamela Z. In contrast, the hauntingly melodic minimalism of Mary Ellen Childs's "After Dust" provides a relatively tranquil respite from the more exuberant goings-on. The quartet's jazz leanings are also brought to the foreground, with Ethel violinist Mary Rowell's arrangement of Lennie Tristano's "Requiem" providing one of the album's most powerfully emotive moments, and one of Don Byron's "Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye" offering a more abstract, but no less intriguing, synthesis of jazz, soul, and the avant-garde. And then, just when you think you've mapped out the limits of Ethel's influences and experiments, you encounter the "vocals" of Einstein -- an African gray parrot -- on the spirited final track, Rowell's "Also Sprach Einstein." Light may not suit those who want their music to fit neatly into one predictable category or another, but for the rest of us, it contains an album's worth of invigorating musical fun.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Chris Nickson
The second album from string quartet Ethel finds them in even more adventurous form than their earlier work. That's never more so than on "Ethel Dreams of Temporal Disturbances," where the group works around a recurring sample, the piece going through several different shifting moods to create a atmosphere that seems to resemble the cycles of manic depression. "Chai," on the other hand, is a little sublime piece of funk that works beautifully in the setting. It's ironic, perhaps, that it's more soulful than "#3 (From Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye)," the composition by Don Byron that's more an exploration of mood than anything. There's some glorious playing here, brash and bravura, but capable of many degrees of subtlety. It'll challenge what you think of contemporary music and make you think, not only about the music you hear on this CD, but the things to listen to when it's over.
Gramophone - Ken Smith
A pan-stylistic tour de force where fingers fly with virtuoso abandon.
Chicago Tribune - John von Rhein
Hugely enjoyable.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/12/2006
Label:
Cantaloupe
UPC:
0713746303723
catalogNumber:
21037
Rank:
194269

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ethel   Primary Artist
Dorothy Lawson   Cello,Group Member
Vijay Iyer   Piano,Guest Appearance
Randy Crafton   Human Whistle,Guest Appearance
Cornelius Dufallo   Violin,Group Member
Ralph Farris   Viola,Group Member
Pamela Z   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Mary L. Rowell   Violin,Group Member

Technical Credits

Don Byron   Composer
Lennie Tristano   Composer
Mary Ellen Childs   Composer
Tom Durack   Producer,Engineer
Timo Alakotila   Composer
Dorothy Lawson   Composer
Kenny Savelson   Executive Producer
David Lang   Executive Producer
Julia Wolfe   Executive Producer
Cornelius Dufallo   Composer
Marcelo Zarvos   Composer
Pamela Z   Composer,Engineer,Sample Programming
Mary L. Rowell   Composer

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