Fred Frith and the Arte Quartett

Still Urban

BY Nilan PereraPublished Mar 16, 2009

The environment in which art is created has long been a significant factor, if not a driving force, behind the work itself. Whether the artist is in conflict, harmony or striving for neutrality within it, the place where she or he lives provides constant companionship. This release by Fred Frith and the Swiss saxophone choir known as the Arte Quartett is a suite of works seesawing between neo-classical stateliness and unabashed free improvisation, with the urban environment as its context. Frith's compositional strategies are very much in evidence, as the exploration of sound worlds work hand-in-hand with a rigorous attention to the expansion and contraction of melodic and harmonic material. Noise elements, feedback from Frith and bursts of intensity from the saxophones segue between pools of introspection, beautifully written and sensitively played. There are no wasted moments, the vision is clear and precise from beginning to end and the result is a rare and thoughtful perspective of urban life.

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