Brassica Band

Paul Burnell
Cabbage Heads
UK IPBO 5 CDR (2013)

After a certain album by Serge Gainsbourg, cabbage-headedness appears to have fallen by the wayside of late. But this scourge of school dinners is trollied back into view with London-based contempo composer Paul Burnell and his Cabbage Heads c.d. A well established voice within chamber and larger instrumental spheres, the latest ninety-nine per cent solo work by this Welsh ex-pat is a shop that’s well stocked in diversity and managed by someone with a fine grip on multi-tracking techniques. “Train of Thought” for example, in which watercoloured washes of synthied strings and glockenspiel border a droll, haltingly recited set of observations made whilst heading out on a train journey from Waterloo Station. And you might be surprised to read that there are absolutely no mentions of signal failures (!!) Here’s a ‘customer’ who has led a charmed life so far… “Selective Memory”‘s dreamlike tones seem to acknowledge the otherworldliness of the ‘Orphee’ soundtrack while a rarely explored suburban gamelan seam is mined on “In One Breath”. Like I said…pretty diverse so far eh? Yet all these tracks have a certain thread of self-effacement and lightheartedness about them. Simon Jeffe’s Penguin Cafe Orchestra might act as a good pointer here. How about “Breathing Together”. A peculiar, yet all too brief fragment where the coupling of Viva-era La Dusseldorf signatures are compromised by KPM library music incidentals. And last, but certainly not least, comes the multi-tenor sax stompage of “And I Said ‘Hey Ted, You’re Pixelated'”. A nineteenth century piece, whose original identity remains undisclosed. Its chopped/whipped/liquified identity now says more in its four minutes, fifty than Rhys Chatham’s “For Brass” ever did in sixteen, thirty-three and I never thought I’d ever say that! …I now await the ‘knock on the door’…

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