Album reviews: The Antlers, Dr Freud's Cabaret, Keith Jarrett, Gaetano Donizetti, Role, Peter Matthew Bauer


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The Independent Culture

The Antlers Familiars (transgressive)

One listener’s pretension is another’s welcome ambition in the case of Brooklyn’s Pete Silberman and his emotive chamber-pop explorers. Five years after Hospice documented a bedside vigil with devastating poise and high-concept heft, the fifth Antlers album explores split selfhood with the promise of trumpets used as an “emotional antagonist”.

Charges of over-solemnity may be levelled its way, but only occasionally are the melodic and narrative threads lost to a focus on miasmic, brush-stroked atmospherics. When Familiars works, on the sepulchral waltz of “Doppelgänger”, Iron & Wine-ish lullaby “Revisited” and yearning release of “Parade”, the Antlers offer lush reminders that ridicule is nothing they need to be scared of.


Kevin Harley

Dr Freud’s Cabaret Studies In Hysteria

Listen with mother …. Well, you might as well. It’s a quiet, reflective suite of songs extruded from the case studies of You Know Who, each one a different voicing of a neurosis, please note, not an analysis. So we meet Anna O, the Wolf Man, Dora, the Rat Man and finally Dr F himself, accompanied austerely by a small, unexcitable acoustic ensemble stitched with simple piano figures.

Lots of space then for the voices to enact their 10 stories: Euros Childs, Jon Langford, Laura J Martin, Julie Murphy and composers Anthony Reynolds and Charlotte Greig – less a tour de force than a tour du petit salon, so intimate, repressed and bewildered is the atmosphere. It comes in a hand-stitched leather pouch: make of that what you will.


Nick Coleman

Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden Last Dance ECM

Is it two jazz geniuses, with nothing left to prove, making beautiful music together? Or a soporific, standards set so under-powered that even the cosily familiar tunes start to grate? Both views are valid, and there’s no new reunion, either, as all the tracks come from the same 2007 session at pianist Jarrett’s home-studio that produced Jasmine.

As far as the new old songs go, there’s some crackers – “My Old Flame”, “My Ship”, “It Might as Well be Spring”, even “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and “Round Midnight” – but while the woody sound of Haden’s double-bass gets acres of space, he’s mainly content to plunk along to Jarrett’s low-energy comping. Listened to sympathetically, as soppy late-night jazz, it’s fine. Just don’t expect sparks to fly.


Phil Johnson

Gaetano Donizetti Aristea (Naxos)

Composers in the early 1800s were expected to knock out mini-operas as well as blockbusters, for their patron’s birthday or a special occasion, after which the whimsy was likely to be stripped down, recycled, or junked.

Aristea, written for Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies, was such a piece – a Grecian muddle with the trope of a noble child secretly raised by shepherds. The humdrummery would have been forgotten, but for the closing three-section quartet that, in 1823, brought the Teatro San Carlo to its feet, Donizetti having retreated to Naples.

Sopranos Andrea Lauren Brown, Sara Hershkowitz, and Caroline Adler and the brilliant young baritone Andreas Burkhart are among those doing the honours.


Claudia Pritchard

Various Artists  Rolê: New Sounds Of Brazil

This double CD of contemporary Brazilian music perfectly illustrates why the label “world music” has become an embarrassing Anglo/American-centric anachronism.

For essentially what we have here are as many different musical styles and cross-pollinations as there are artists represented. Which prompts the question: are languid indie pop/smoky folk/polyrhythmic hip-hop/afro punk-funk tracks “world music” just because they are of Brazilian provenance? Of course not.

So just ignore the category this review appears under, and enjoy an astonishingly diverse selection of tunes from arguably the most musically innovative country in the world. Use it as music to accompany the football, if you must.


Howard Male

Peter Matthew Bauer Liberation!

Given the demise of testy US art-rockers the Walkmen, the title of their bassist’s solo album could be mistaken for a cry of celebratory freedom. In fact, Peter Matthew Bauer retains his old band’s virtues – bracing cynicism, tipsy abandon – for his migration from urbane ennui to spiritual matters.

“I Was Born in an Ashram” sets an incense-wafted spirit of reverb-dazed reflection on his hippie upbringing, but Bauer roots his reveries on divine revelation in the earthier magic of roistering punk-folk and blurry tour-bus snapshots. Giddily debunking sacred falsehoods with good, honest scepticism, Bauer’s raucous rebirth offers the best of both worlds: intrigue and instant reward for Walkmen doubters and acolytes alike.