I spent a lot of last week, or maybe the week before, trying to get a handle on odd, prog-jazzy Curlew, a 1979 to the late 1990s mainstay of downtown clubs like the Knitting Factory. (Fred Frith and Bill Laswell both played with the band on occasion, though not on the album and DVD that I reviewed.)
Cuneiform is re-releasing Curlew’s mid-1980s album A Beautiful Western Saddle, the only recording in the band’s catalogue to feature vocals and lyrics…the album comes packaged with live performance video of just the band (no singer, no lyrics), which went a long way towards convincing me about Curlew. I’m not sure that the album, by itself, would have done so.
Anyway, the review ran today at Blurt. Here is the usual attempt to draw you in with the good parts…
clarity, simplicity, melody...none of these are really Curlew's strong suit. The band is most comfortable when executing polyrhythmic counterpoints, every instrument in the band punching out in slightly different, but inter-related directions.
The rest of the review is here.
Here’s a bit of the DVD, which will maybe show you what I meant..
I'm in a bit of a lull review-wise, since I sort of ran out of records at Dusted a week or two ago, at the same time that Blurt was focusing on a far-distant print edition (i.e. the reviews I write now will show up in a couple of months). That gap is now working its way through the system...but I'm back on the case now, so it shouldn't last long.