Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Michael C. Maguire is a Canadian based composer who has created a personal and quirky hybrid blending classical and popular culture. The two works presented here are expansive concertos that pit a virtuoso soloist against a complex computer processed background that is constantly in flux. Featuring David Swan on piano and John Gzowski on electric guitar the music is confrontational, extreme and packed with drama and excitement.
Personnel: Michael C. Maguire (vocals); Christine Duncan (vocals); John Gzowski (electric guitar).
Liner Note Author: Michael C. Maguire.
Michael C. Maguire has been commissioned by dance companies to compose music, and in the case of Meta-Conspiracy, it could have easily been done for experimental films. What he creates on this daring recording can easily be pegged 21st century contemporary electronic music, but it is so much more than that. Moreover, Maguire's concept is to toss all elements in a blender set on high speed, and listen to the different styles and genres playfully bounce off each other knowing they will not necessarily mix or match and turn into brown goop. The music, which at times incorporates up to 400 separate tracks from a CPU through layering, sonic sampling, and the usage of live improvising instrumentalists, is a fascinating study on how to make new music through digital techniques, written scores, and the wide world of sound. Two nearly half-hour compositions are included, and the dizzying heights the music achieves is astounding by any criteria. "A Short History of Lounge" -- not all that short -- explores a legitimate jazz stance glued to a faux-concerto/quasi-rondo, taking normal circumstance and day to day living, stacking it on high in mass plus-plus-plus algebraic run-on sentences, and using pianist David Swan as the control factor. A spoken word warning and industrial sounds inform the pianist's role as an informant, not a prevaricator. The music is dense and requires close listening as you hear this epic of variations and ethnomusicology in super high definition, drama, and duress. A blues harmonica, symphonic notions, a vocal chorus, and a calmed piano repast enter the fray briefly. It's like Frederic Rzewski meets Steve Reich meets the Residents on acid playing laptops. The concept is loosely based on A Brief History of the Universe. The second piece, "Got That Crazy Latin/Metal Feeling" is based on a 49-chord harmonic progression that moves backward, then forward, although it is not that readily discernible. Mathematics, Brazilian pop, perhaps Captain Beefheart's jazzier side, Claude Debussy, and the influence of Euro-electro pioneer Michael Schenker of the Scorpions and UFO are acknowledged. The dynamic range goes up and down with death rock and metal sounds of electric guitarist John Gzowski as the focal point. The music, as peculiar as it might seem, is never crowded or constipated. At times symphonic, manic, and accented by a trio of vocalists including Maguire, whether noodling, rigid, or plain ridiculous, the music has a certain warm substance within its obvious schizophrenia. The medication has been taken, it is absorbed and efficient, yet there's an underlying turbulence that cannot be denied. This is a wonderful project, hopefully spawning other similar efforts, and marks Maguire as a unique figure in any genre of contemporary modern music you choose. ~ Michael G. Nastos