Personnel: Christine Tobin (vocals); Harald Winkler (violin); Eugen Bertel (flute).
Liner Note Author: Peter Herbert .
Recording information: Kulturhaus Dornbirn (09/12/1999-12/19/2001); Remise Bludenz (09/12/1999-12/19/2001).
Photographer: Gerald Domenig.
To use Walker Percy's phrase, Peter Herbert is onto something: he is the genuine article, a piece of work, someone who knows where he is going (or at least leads listeners to believe he does), and he's a chance-taker to boot. Here, he displays a remarkable ability to distort ever so slightly, with two separate projects spliced together in a single album. The first, called "You're My Thrill," which constitutes the first five tracks, is a subtle warping of recognized standards that have been rewritten by Herbert for chamber orchestra. You recognize the lyrics but not all of the melodies, and even then the words take on strange meanings, almost like a person who finds himself suddenly immersed in a Frederic Brown parallel universe where nothing is quite what it seems. An 11-piece ensemble accompanies proper vocalist Christine Tobin as she articulates the seemingly familiar in slightly oddball though not illogical ways. The vocalist's serious demeanor superimposed over her jazzy, sometimes radical interpretations have the effect of a woman singing formal opera in the nude. Herbert's arrangements bash the genders, incorporating the best of the third stream with elements of classical, jazz, and popular song. Just as fascinating are the final five selections, performed by a slightly larger group, where Herbert "reflect[s] musically on different sound snippets, in this case sounds from human beings on the street [in New York City]." Herbert lived in New York for 15 years, and he taped different voices. Here he collects some of those in which a problem in communications occurs and he calls the collection "Communications Error." A couple of the tracks capture homeless persons uttering oddball remarks; others are simply slices of life. Rather than focusing exclusively on the words, the way that Gavin Bryars might, Herbert uses them as launching pads for surprisingly tasteful and often modest musical excursions ~ Steven Loewy
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