Still Life with Commentator

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sean Westergaard
Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd join forces once again for Still Life with Commentator, something of a follow-up to In What Language? Both these projects are decidedly different than Iyer's albums as sole leader, in that Ladd's poetry is up front and the music plays a somewhat smaller role in terms of the focus. Still Life with Commentator is a series of poetic ruminations on information inundation in today's society. The music is often dark and claustrophobic, with beats that mimic teletype machines or clattering keyboards -- a musical analogue for the constant streams of information bombarding us on a daily basis. Ladd's lyrics are dense and layered, and coupled with the ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sean Westergaard
Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd join forces once again for Still Life with Commentator, something of a follow-up to In What Language? Both these projects are decidedly different than Iyer's albums as sole leader, in that Ladd's poetry is up front and the music plays a somewhat smaller role in terms of the focus. Still Life with Commentator is a series of poetic ruminations on information inundation in today's society. The music is often dark and claustrophobic, with beats that mimic teletype machines or clattering keyboards -- a musical analogue for the constant streams of information bombarding us on a daily basis. Ladd's lyrics are dense and layered, and coupled with the music create a slight and sometimes not so slight sense of malaise. Iyer's wonderful piano playing only surfaces in short bursts, like the ending of "Cleaning Up the Mess" and "Holocaust Blog." "Mount Rather Commentator Landscape #3: Dan Rather" also has a really nice coda featuring some tasty guitar work by Liberty Ellman. Things loosen up a bit toward the middle and end, with both the hilarious "Fox 'n' Friends" and the playful "Cybernut Bucolia" offering a bit of respite from the more serious proceedings. There are also two instrumentals toward the end: a solo piano piece "Redemption Chant" and the somber full-band number "Blog Mom's Anthem." If you're looking to hear Iyer's jazz inclinations, look elsewhere. Still Life with Commentator is a dense, thought-provoking piece that takes some effort to internalize. It's of a piece conceptually, if not in execution, with Rob Swift's War Games. Neither of these albums preaches and neither takes sides; they examine and expose ways in which our society is changing that no one can prevent or predict. Ultimately, it is only through scrutiny that understanding is gained. Still Life with Commentator isn't an easy listen, but it wasn't meant to be.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/6/2007
  • Label: Savoy Jazz
  • UPC: 795041762825
  • Catalog Number: 17628

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Vijay Iyer Primary Artist
Mike Ladd Vocals
Liberty Ellman Guitar
Pamela Z Vocals, Background Vocals
Guillermo E. Brown Vocals, electronic percussion
Okkyung Lee Cello
Pálína Jónsdóttir Vocals
Masayasu Nakanishi Vocals
Technical Credits
Scotty Hard Producer, Engineer
Mike Ladd Composer, Producer, Liner Notes
Vijay Iyer Composer
Greenberg Kingsley Illustrations
Joshua Sherman Executive Producer
Pamela Z translation, Electronic Processing
Michael Fossenkemper Mastering
Walid Breidi Construction
Masayasu Nakanishi translation
Ibrahim Quraishi Liner Notes
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