Published Oct 14, 2013Charlemagne Palestine is the eccentric uncle we'd all like to become when we grow up. He is armed with just enough accomplishments in his long career as a composer and performer to be given wide latitude for realizing his theatrics. He is brilliant enough to stumble upon something inspired at times, yet he's not beyond tripping over a few other ideas along the way.
The abbreviated performance of Strumming for solo piano retains its brilliance. His strongest manifestation of the chanting, trance state of the evening, its harmonies of repetitive clusters creates a wash of psychoacoustic artefacts and dense waves of sound. Palestine's brief interlude at the organ housed at the Music Gallery showed similar promise as well.
But much of his other performances had mixed qualities. His quiet singing while rubbing the rim of his cognac snifter and walking around the room was a fair introduction to his sense of ritual. The video piece of Palestine running and screaming through an abandoned warehouse space was an exercise in protracted agony. And his "melodic" work with stuffed animals is puzzling. One feels that much is forgiven on the strength of his persona. He is, after all, a member of the family. And the new music community does need its enfant terrible.