Dylan Group
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

It's All About , 7/10
More Adventures In Lying Down , 7/10
Ur-Klang Search , 6.5/10
Mice Parade: The Meaning Of Boodley Baye , 6.5/10
Mice Parade: Ramda , 7/10
Mice Parade: Collaborations, 6/10
Mice Parade: Mokoondi , 6/10
Mice Parade: Obrigado Saudade (2004), 5.5/10
Mice Parade: Bem-Vinda Vontade (2005), 5/10
Mice Parade: Mice Parade (2007), 5/10
Mice Parade: What It Means to Be Left-Handed (2010), 5/10

Dylan Group is the all-instrumental project of percussionist Adam Pierce and jungle dj Dylan Cristy, two stalwarts of the New York underground dance scene.

Dylan Group/ Him (Bubblecore, 1997) was a (mediocre) essay on dub, but It's All About (Bubble Core, 1997) retooled drum'n'bass, bebop and hip hop for the Tortoise generation. Both members alternate on vibraphone. With references to the Modern Jazz Quartet and covers of John Cage and Aphex Twin, the duo declared its avantgarde, jazz and ambient influences. The album succeeds both as convoluted dance music (Bittersweet) and as dilated psychedelic jam (Gazer).

A stronger latin and lounge accent permeates More Adventures In Lying Down (Bubble Core, 1999), recorded as a quartet. The album opens programmatically with a Brazilian cover. Some Kind Of Lullaby applies the Tortoise technique to that theme and comes up with a lengthy jam that eventually decades into an interlude of percussions and fades away on the wings of a trumpet-driven jazz serenade. The two-part Connection Is The Key is a monastic song for the post-rock generation: ghostly voices scan a melody while the rhythm section sketches a funk-jazz rhythm; a dub break leads to a vibes-based lounge melody. Spaghetti and The Legend Of Kid Bullseye merrely reiterate the concept, while Borderline Baby emphasizes neurotic pattern repetition. The "gamelan on acid" of Kulit And Ketoprak serves as a nice break between so many post-modern ruminations.
The albums' tour de force, the 14-minute And You Thought The Cowboy Always Won, offers a surreal collage of styles at a galloping pace, opening with easy-listening vocalizing and wind fanfare, then indulging in a dreamy solo of the vibraphone and accelerating to minimalistic/gamelan repetition.
The premises are simple enough, but they lend themselves to a synthesis of lounge music, futuristic pop, prog-rock and post-rock, four of the most abused themes at the turn of the century.

Ur-Klang Search (Bubble Core, 2000), on which Pierce and Cristy are joined by Tyler Pistilli (trumpet and percussion) and Scott MCGovern (bass), is even more explicit than its predecessor in merging Faust/Can avant-rock (Let It Sit, Knowing Insider), King Crimson's convoluted jamming (Crunch), the Canterbury school of progressive-rock (Julito's Way), Steve Reich's minimalism (the delicious carillon on vibes that fuels Avila, slowly ceding the lead to bass and drums acrobatics), jazz-rock (the longest track, Julito's Way, a brisk Latin-tinged jam), and Tortoise's post-rock (Towers Of Dub, which offers more vibes repetition, loud bass groove, syncopated drumming). Dylan Group's fusion music is best formalized in Running In Pain (eight minutes): a cubist melody is vivisected by Cristy's vibes and the bass, juxtaposed to Pierce's distorted guitar riffs. Division Long (seven minutes) is another masterpiece of subtlety, mixing dub, jazz, Sixties' easy-listening, dissonance and time dilation. The Road I Know is an essay in stylistic mutation, beginning in a percussive fashion and transitioning to a brass-driven jazz fanfare. Cristy proves his worth as a vibraphonist with the (languid) sonata for tinkling bells of DA3, and throughout the album with his intricate and nerve-wracking patterns of repetitive patterns. Smooth, slick, elegant, but also emotion-less for most of the journey, Dylan Group's sound is sometimes too obviously minimalistic (repetitive) and sometimes too centered on the vibraphone.

Adam Pierce is also the multi-instrumentalist in charge of Mice Parade (an anagram of his name). The Meaning Of Boodley Baye (Bubble Core, 1998) wove a rich tapestry of styles, that led to the symphonic style of Ramda (Fatcat, 1999), a dazzling take on dub, jazz and techno. Collaborations (After Hours, 2000) is what the title says, and collaborators include Doug Scharin, Curtis Harvey, Nobukazu Takemura and Jim O'Rourke, but most tracks sound like soothing new age music (The Fall Of Andalucia) rather than brainy chamber improvisation. But centerpiece Mystery Brethren Vironment is 1990s' post-rock plus 1970s' kraut-rock.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Carlo Maramotti)

Dylan Group e` il progetto del percussionista Adam Pierce e del dj jungle Dylan Cristy, due animatori della scena dance underground di New York.

Dylan Group/Him (Bubblecore, 1997) era una (mediocre) composizione in dub, ma It's All About (Bubblecore, 1997), rinnova drum'n'bass, bebop e hip hop per la generazione Tortoise. Entrambi i membri si alternano al vibrafono. Con riferimenti al Modern Jazz Quartet e covers di John Cage e Aphex Twin, il duo dichiara le sue influenze jazz, avantgarde e ambient. Il disco ha successo sia come dance contorta (Bittersweet) sia come jam psichedeliche dilatate (Gazer). Un forte accento latino e lounge permea More Adventures in Lyng Down (Bubblecore, 1999), registrato come quartetto. Connection is The Key and Stay progredisce i riferimenti ai Tortoise e deriva direttamente dalla jungle. I dadaistici 14 minuti di And You Thought The Cowboy Always Won e l'incubo gamelan Kuilt And Ketoprak mostrano le infinite risorse dei due leaders. Ur-Klang Search (Bubblecore, 2000) fonde l'avant rock di Faust/Can (Crunch), la scuola progressive di Canterbury (Julito's Way), il minimalismo di Steve Reich (Avila), e il post-rock dei Tortoise (Towers of Dub). Questa Š musica ancor pi— difficile. L'uso di nastri e dissonanze in Division Long emula l'avanguardia. Pierce e Cristy sono aiutati da Tyler Pistilli (tromba e percussioni) e Scott McGovern (basso). Adam Pierce Š anche il polistrumentista titolare dei Mice Parade. The Meaning Of Boodley Baye (Bubblecore, 1998) intreccia un'arazzo di stili che porta allo stile sinfonico di Ramda (FatCat, 1999), una luminosa diapositiva in dub, jazz e techno. Collaborations (Afterhours, 2000) e` quello che dice il titolo, e la collaborazione include Doug Scharin, Curtis Harvey, Nobukazu Takemura e Jim O'Rourke, ma molti pezzi suonano come musica new age calmante (The Fall Of Andalucia) piuttosto che abile improvvisazione da camera. Ma il pezzo centrale Mystery Brethren Vironment Š il post-rock dei novanta pi— il kraut-rock dei settanta.

On Mice Parade's Mokoondi (Fat Cat, 2001), Adam Pierce concocted more captivating genre twisters, like the funk/jazz/Brazilian groove of Mokoondi, but the main dish is the three-part suite Open Air Dance, that best summarizes his experimental fusion of post-rock, progressive-rock and even jazz-rock. Open Air Dance opens like some sparse Japanese classical music, then picks up speed and volume, propelled by Chinese string instruments and feverishly dislocated drums, weaving recurring phrases like in a Steve Reich piece before disclosing the Brazilian theme that has been deconstructed. The second movement recalls the liquid jazz-rock sound of Soft Machine's sixth album, while the third movement turns into an essay on modern afro-latin syncopation, an attempt at fusing drum'n'bass and Brazilian rhythm.
The themes of the first suite are further explored by the three movements of the second suite, Into The Freedom World: jazzy keyboard and guitar jamming over a drum'n'bass beat, a celestial tapestry of tones, an exotic chamber concerto with Reich-ian repetition and sax improvisations.
The remaining pieces are mainly experiments with the fascinating tones of unusual instruments. The vibraphone's trancey drones and echoes fill the quantum geometry of Pursuant To The Vibe. Chinese harp and dulcimer duet in Ramda's Focus, creating thick waves of sound and solemn mirages of landscapes. The Castaway Team is a confused puzzle with synthesizer and violin, that alternates between classical music and heavy metal (almost reminiscent of Frank Zappa's acrobatic scores).
Less unitary than Meaning or Ramda, a little fragmentary and unfocused, this album looks like a notepad where Pierce scribbled a few theorems without completely proving them. It displays the same kind of magisterium in finding the common thread between post-rock, world-music and dance music, and in a more accessible and less enigmatic form.

All Roads Lead To Salzburg (Bubblecore, 2002) collects rarities.

Mice Parade's fifth album, Obrigado Saudade (Bubblecore, 2004), disposes of the band-oriented sound of Mokoondi, but continues Adam Pierce's progression towards the linear structure of the song format. Each song pretty much takes a different route to the same destination, Two Three Fall investing in the warm vocals of Mum's Anna Valtysdottir, Focus on a Roller Coaster (a relatively catchy ditty by his standards) delivering tremors of noise-pop. The rhythmic paranoia of Wave Greeting and the 11-minute vivisecting operation of Mystery Brethren are the most daring experiments, but pale in comparison with previous efforts.

The fifth Mice Parade album, Bem-Vinda Vontade (Fat Cat, 2005), featuring vocal guests Ikuko Harada and Mum's Kristin Anna Valtysdottir (Night's Wave, The Boat Room), seems to opt for formulaic pop tunes, despite the occasional psychedelic excess (Passing and Galloping). But it is really noteworthy for Pierce's work on rhythm, that coasts both jazz and African polyrhythms, as displayed in The Days Before Fiction (Doug Scharin also on drums).

The soul of Mice Parade (Fat Cat, 2007) seems to be not so much in the facile Sneaky Red but in the atmospheric Double Dolphins On The Nickel, the natural point of arrival for Adam Pierce's drift towards a more adult form of music.

Pierce's routine continued on Mice Parade (Fat Cat, 2007), mostly a bland exercise in arranging songs for female vocalists (notably Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab in Tales of Las Negras and Kristin Anna Valtysdottir of Mum in Double Dolphins on the Nickel). It is telling that the most charming moment comes with the instrumental Circle None.

Mice Parade's What It Means to Be Left-Handed (2010) delved again into world-music (Kupanda and Couches and Carpets), which then inspired brainy rhythmic experiments a` la This Heat (Tokyo Late Night), while the bombastic single In Between Times goes nowhere.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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