Review: Joey Molinaro, untitled

 

Joey Molinaro

untitled

3.5 stars

If you're looking for

inventive, brave, intelligent new music, this is pretty much the stuff. Joey

Molinaro

, a violinist for the local noise-classical combo Basilica, chose to

leave the title to his debut release blank, perhaps because its two sides are

so different from each other. The first, "The Inalienable Dreamless," features

a solo violin arrangement of the grindcore album by the same name, released in

2000 by the now-defunct Discordance Axis. The second, "We," brings all the

resources of Basilica to bear on a fifteen-minute, multi-part composition

inspired by Zamyatin's dystopian novel. Both sides offer relentless, aggressive

but not quite brutal music, played by Molinaro with a husky tone and nary a

hint of vibrato.

Molinaro proves himself quite

the foot-stomper during "The Inalienable Dreamless," executing some relatively

rapid rhythms that would have to accomplished by, say, step dancing — or

at least by multi-tracking, even though the low-fi recordings, rich with room

noise, seem to have been laid down live. Lost in translation from the original

to Molinaro's arrangement is the intricacy of grindcore, with its rapid-fire

drum fills and staccato guitar parts. What's left are a few core phrases and

motives from each of the songs, repeated four-to-the-floor, as well as some

keening double-stop passages that seem to imitate the screaming vocals

associated with the genre. If "The Inalienable Dreamless" gets a little

repetitive by the close, this much can be said to Molinaro's credit: His

interpretation is a hundred times more interesting than any "Metallica played

by a string quartet" album.

"We" is a richer experience,

remaining sparse, deliberate and percussive in the style of the first side, but

drawing from a wider tonal palette, largely because Molinaro invites the whole

band to join him, including guitar, bass and drums. Given that Molinaro points

so explicitly to the work's inspiration (Zamyatin's novel), it's hard not to

imagine wide-scale industrial destruction when hearing the piece, with each

sharp riff and rat-a-tat snare suggesting a factory manufacturing some manner

of life-destroying product (guns, killer robots, TVs, Snuggies). "We" is

characteristic of much of Basilica's work, which is poised between contemporary

classical and metal, in the arena of your Flying Luttenbachers,

your John Zorns and other hybrid rock-classical acts that aren't the

Trans-Siberian Orchestra. And as tends to be the case with tone poems, the

story is pretty much incidental — one man's bone-crunching wail is

another's skillfully-executed riff or hymn of praise to Allah. But, given that

I was listening to "We," the piece, with We, the novel, in mind, I thought it compared favorably

to Zappa's "The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny," another sparse, abrasive

rock-classical work inspired by dystopian literature (in Zappa's case, Kafka's

"In the Penal Colony").

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