Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra Truth in the Dark

Composer Benjamin Mueller-Heaslip and live-in lyricist Kristin Mueller-Heaslip have created a curious cottage industry, a mini-opera company with one diva and a five-person orchestra. Now opera may not be your bag but hang on a second, the PRO use rock-ish rhythms and Phillip Glass-ish rippling strings/soprano sax lines as the setting for vocalist Kristin’s literate lyrics. Drummer Mike Rosenthal is key to making the ensemble come alive, as his interesting, off-centred fills in the title track and his relentless pounding on the leader’s arrangement of Wire’s "Comet” demonstrate. More in synch with traditional opera practice is the warm-toned violin/cello pairing of Alex Cheung and Kerri McGonigle, augmenting soprano saxophonist Jennifer Wardle. The group’s moving from unison to counterpoint provides plenty of interest for even the casual listener. However, although relieved by key changes in the non-vocal pieces, the reoccurrence of tonal centres does lend a trying sameness to the otherwise captivating songs. While the PRO aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, they make challenging music for listeners looking to expand the musical palate. (Independent)