Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra Live On Planet Earth

Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra Live On Planet Earth
German composer Daniel Glatzel seems to have an aversion to doing the same thing twice. As director of the Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra, an 18-piece ensemble as adept at big band jazz and cinematic classical as modern experimental music, he envisioned their 2009 debut album, Take Off!, as a live-off-the-floor studio recording, then followed it up with 2012's Bum Bum, where he sampled all of the instruments separately, then arranged them as he saw fit (orchestral hip-hop? Yeah, he went there).

Contrastingly, the third AMEO album is an unedited live album, hence the title Live on Planet Earth, which was recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience at Berlin-Neukölln's Heimathafen in 2012. Being unedited, there is a natural ebb and flow to this show, between its dynamic flourishes, contemplative passages and uproarious applause, but there is nary an awkward moment throughout.

Stylistically, as usual, it's all over the map. "Opening" kicks the album off with sombre ambient drones, leading to the demented Looney Tunes score that is "Le Prétre Viré." Between the spastic bursts of woodwinds that dominate the first few minutes and the subtly skittering strings that precede its disintegrating crescendo, "Overture" breaks down into an offbeat gypsy waltz that comes out of nowhere, while the closing "W.A. Mozart vs Random Generator" pits some of the orchestra's most refined vignettes against a boxing video game from the '80s.

A little Ennio Morricone and Lalo Schifrin here, and a little Jaga Jazzist with the Britten Sinfonia there, Live on Planet Earth captures the eclecticism and eccentricity of the Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra in full swing. It's essential listening for fans of Danny Elfman scores and Frank Zappa symphonies. (Alien Transistor)