JOE CUTLER (b.1968): Hawaii, Hawaii, Hawaii for Saxophone and Orchestra (Trish Clowes (sax), BBC Concert Orchestra; Ben Palmer), September Music, Bad Machine, Chorale for Wim Megans.
Catalogue Number: 12W056
Label: Birmingham Record Company
Description: If you enjoyed "Elsewhereness" (11U071) then you will want this too. Cutler has carved out an unique niche for himself in contemporary British music with his instantly accessible, tonal, viscerally impactful music full of droll, wry, sometimes even slapstick humour that constantly lets the mask slip to reveal serious, thought-provoking and often rather dark subject matter. Three of these pieces arose from Cutler's long-standing relationship with Netherlands-based collective, Orkest de Ereprijs, and these share the up-front, somewhat abrasive timbres and post-minimalist rhythmic obsessiveness that such ensembles are known for - the Louis Andriessen sound, if you will. In September Music, the repeating 'grounds' on which the music is based have a Baroque, tonal feel, but glissando snarls obscure our view of much of the post-minimalist texture. The "Bad Machine" is the mechanistically brutal ensemble, which has metaphorically 'trapped' one of its own, the unfortunate piano, which scurries around frantically, like a rat trapped in a cage, apparently unaware that its repetitive gestures make it sound like a machine itself. Chorale for Wim Megans is an intimate, lyrical elegy for the ensemble’s founding conductor. The saxophone concerto, Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii, is the star of this disc. Someone has apparently described Cutler's style as "post-genre", and if the term hadn’t previously existed, it would have been necessary to invent it for this quintessential piece of Cutlery. Plenty of post-minimalism, some jazz, romanticism, ambient music and improvisation are all thrown into the immensely appealing mix; but the whole has an unmistakably sinister, oppressive and ominous atmosphere - not despite, but because of its catchy 'earwormishness'. And this makes perfect sense when the movement titles reveal the piece to be based on the story ‘Somni-451’ from David Mitchell's narrative-twisting novel Cloud Atlas, this episode set in a dystopian East Asian empire in which a slave class of humans is manufactured to serve the ruling 'consumers'. Perfect material for the Cutler treatment. Orkest de Ereprijs; Wim Boerman.