per·cus·sion [per-kuhsh–uhn] –noun
1. The striking of one body against another with some sharpness; impact; blow.
2. (Medicine/Medical). The striking or tapping of the surface of a part of the body for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
3. The striking of a musical instrument to produce tones.
ensemble et. al., a New York-based percussion ensemble that is the brain-child of Ron Tucker (Who’s aided by J. Ross Marshall and Charles Kessenich) have created some very peaceful, yet thought-provoking dulcet-toned tracks that almost invoke what Teiji Ito would make if he were to record a Christmas album.
Their latest EP, When The Tape Runs Out is the closest one could get to that.
“The ensemble’s sound is really a product of the diverse genres I have explored in the past,” explains Tucker. “A lot of percussion music can be overbearing, loud and dense–without any real sense of melody or structure. By contrast, ensemble et. al.’s compositions strive to incorporate melodic and harmonic motifs and to employ a simple, intimate, and delicately beautiful asthetic. My goal is to create music that is quietly and subtly moving, and that achieves its emotional effect in a simple, elegant manner.”
The EP’s 4 originals (as well as a cover piece; We’ll get to that in a second) are all very intimate and beautifully aesthetic, indeed. According to the group’s press release the recording features glockenspiel, vibraphone, and marimba, as well as metallic, wood and glass objects for their tonal resonance.
Of the 4 originals, my personal favorite is the second track “In a Crowded Room With Nothing To Think About” as lyrically this is very much my life story, but I also love the rhythm of the piece.
If New York Times writer Allan Koznin was quoted as saying “Drums are the new violins”, it would be crazy if he hadn’t heard this recording before then as it materializes as a audio cubic painting of a chamber ensemble.
The 5th track is Tucker’s arrangement of Arvo Part’s “Fur Alina”. The original being a lonely, stark piano solo piece, EEA’s version with the resonant chimes sounds like a more chilling loneliness.
Tucker needed the best possible circumstances during the recording of the EP. “I composed, recorded, performed, engineered, mixed and produced the recording myself in the ‘comfort’ of my small rehearsal studio in Brooklyn (Greenpoint). The 5 songs were recorded on my MacBook Pro using Cubase. The difficult part of recording in a rehearsal studio is finding a time when the space is quiet. Other rooms in the building where my studio is located are filled with indie-rock bands and unfortunately a very loud death-metal band is next door to my studio. Therefore, in order to track very delicate glockenspiel parts or resonant vibraphone tones, I would have to go into the studio in the middle of the night or extremely early on Sunday mornings. Since I handled all aspects of the recording while working a full-time job, the album took 5 months to complete. The tracking of the EP took about 3 months and the mixing and mastering took another 2 months. The EP was mastered by John Cohrs of Speenless Mastering.”
ensemble et. al.: In a Crowded Room With Nothing to Think About