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The Sad Machinery Of Spring CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 Jan. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: ADA Global
  • ASIN: B000LPR3R2
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,273 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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BBC Review

Despite the departure of founder member Rob Burger, Tin Hat have produced possibly their deepest, most beguiling work with The Sad Machinery of Spring; their fifth album released in their ten years together. Violinist/vocalist and multi instrumentalist Carla Kihlstedt and guitarist/multi instrumentalist Mark Orton have added trumpeter Ara Anderson (of Tom Waits fame) and clarinettist Ben Goldberg to the mix, plus they've upgraded the extraordinary harpist Zeena Parkins to full-time status. With instrumentation ranging from dobro to the massive contra alto clarinet (everyone except Parkins seems to play about 15 different instruments), Tin Hat have increased their already expansive and totally acoustic palette into something even richer and stranger.

The inspiration for this album is the work of Polish writer Bruno Schulz (1892-1942), whose dark, Kafka-esque surrealism makes a nice fit with Tin Hat's lush yet disturbing mix of Eastern European folk, 20th century classical and free improvisation. Titles like "The Secret Fluid of Dusk", "Dead Season" and "Black Thursday" give some idea of the mood. Even during the sprightliest moments, there's a finely honed dissonance at work which suggests that something not quite right may be lurking in the shadows. This is made most obvious on Kihlstedt's urgent, breathy rendition of "Daisy Bell" (aka "Daisy, Daisy"), which suggests that Daisy would be best advised to avoid hopping on the back of a bicycle built for two and taking out a restraining order on her would-be suitor instead. Elsewhere the mix of beauty and creeping dread is more subtle. "The Land of Perpetual Sleep" manages to be sinister and dreamily beautiful simultaneously; violin and clarinet trace a wounded, sickly melody over a gentle ripple of harps, dobro and drones, while "Janissary Band" sounds like Stravinsky played by a strangely infernal clockwork machine.

Amazingly accomplished and beautifully recorded work from a group of preternaturally talented musicians. Record of the year material, and it's only January... --Peter Marsh

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The devil's in the details . . . 21 Feb. 2007
By Jan P. Dennis - Published on
Format: Audio CD
. . . as always.

And this genre-bending band, perhaps more than any other, has those details absolutely nailed.

It was a brilliant move expanding this minimalist group from a trio to a quintet, adding, it must be said, such monster Downtown players as Zeena Parkins (harp) and Ben Goldberg (various clarinets). For me, this move morphs the band from a quirky, generally interesting although somewhat static outfit, into a killer ensemble of absolute spot-on chamber-jazzish players. Still anchored by the heartbreakingly beautiful violin and various exotic string instruments of the inimitable Carla Kihlstedt and the Kevin Breit/Ry Cooderish guitar of Mark Orton, the band has brilliantly expanded its musical palette to include a greater diversity of sounds and moods than ever before, without compromising--indeed, almost magically augmenting--its signature aesthetic.

Throughout the disc emerge spellbinding moments of musical magic: the deft interplay of trumpet, clarinet, guitar, and violin on "Blind Paper Dragon"; the chthonic mysteries of "Dionysus," mesmerically conveyed through the violin/guitar/piano magic of Kihlstedt/Orton/Anderson; the adroit instrumental interweavings of "Drawing Lessons"--almost every tune has its special pleasures. What seems to have been not entirely lacking but insufficiently on display on previous discs--but here in spades--is a kind of rigor and spine that lifts the proceedings from mere prettiness into realms of sheer gloriousness.

This is a band that has grown into one of the most important instrumental ensembles currently on the jazz/New Music scene. Highest recommendation.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am Glad about "Sad" 22 Feb. 2007
By James Lamperetta - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Tin Hat is one of the precious few groups occupy a space that is uniquely their own.

Formerly known as Tin Hat Trio, multi-instrumentalists Carla Kihlstedt and Mark Orton used fellow founding-member Rob Burger's departure as the impetus to expand the group and shorten the name. Recruiting fellow multi-instrumentalist Ara Anderson, clarinetist Ben Goldberg and harpist Zeena Parkins, the quintet's new CD "The Sad Machinery of Spring" finds a freshly invigorated band artfully exploring and further embellishing the multi-stylistic forays which were synonymous with THT.

Utilizing an assortment of almost two-dozen instruments, the group continues to blend and bend classical, folk, blues, bluegrass, jazz, and world music into a wholly original aural hybrid. Steeped in virtuosity, tempered with understatement and imbued with a hint of irreverence and avant-garde attitude, the fifteen tunes on the new CD are evocative miniatures, wonderfully varied except for their ability to engage and intrigue.

It takes less than three minutes for TH to cast its spell as the haunting familiarity of "Old World" offers up a charming welcome. With Orton's gentle acoustic guitar shaping the backdrop, Goldberg sets the theme afloat before Kihlstedt's violin emerges to gently tuck it in.

"Blind Paper Dragon" finds Anderson's trumpet gliding over the percussive gallop of acoustic guitar, accented with flourishes of both harp and violin. Goldberg's solo sings of Bourbon St. while a moment later his playing takes on an edge as he and Anderson mix it up.

"The Land of Perpetual Sleep" is every bit as spooky one would imagine the place to be. The toy-piano driven march of "Janissary Band" features an array of storybook sounds along with Goldberg's deep-voiced contra-alto clarinet trading fours with correspondingly thick low-end piano.

The esoteric harp interlude "Black Thursday" and Kihlstedt's whispy vocals on "Daisy Bell," ("You'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two") represent the full-range of "Machinery's" musical swath.

"Dionysus" receives two divergent readings, the first of which captures the Gershwinesque Americana that colors many TH tunes. This mood is similarly captured by the shades of the Wild-West that flavor "The Tailor's Dummies" and Orton's stellar dobro work on "The Comet."

Tin Hat creates music that is both otherworldly and essential. With interesting tonal and stylistic juxtapositions helping to define a compositional flair which is cinematic and timeless, surprise lurks around every corner.

"The Sad Machinery of Spring" is a great place to meet this truly one-of-a-kind band.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Tin Hat 6 Feb. 2007
By Icky - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Once again, Tin Hat delievers just what I've been waiting for. The music has a very free flowing feel to it, mainly because the songs are structured without actually sounding like they're structured. Rather than focusing on countless chord changes, the backing rhythm(often a guitar) tends to deviate very little throughout the songs, giving the other instruments room to breathe and explore the possible note combinations without feeling rushed. Because each instrument has the potential to shift the overall tone of a song back and forth, the music often sounds epic. Yet, because average song length is around 3:30, the epic quality of the music is concisely packaged , never sounding empty, but instead rich and fulfilling(imagine a musical cheese cake).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surpise and a delight. 15 Mar. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I heard a track off this played on BBC Radio 3's Late Junction show, and immediately tracked it down. Hmmm, Turtle Island meets Penguin Cafe meets Kronos, directed by Kurt Weill?

Great stuff.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite by far. 12 Dec. 2007
By D. Shaffner - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In comparison to the other four Tin Hat Trio albums, I feel this one is by far the least inventive. Yes the music is very beautiful, and more fully orchestrated than their other albums (because of the added musicians in the group), however Tin Hat Trio's best musical attributes-- including the use of mixed meter and non-traditional instruments and sounds-- are almost non-existent in this album. I've listened to this album at least a half dozen times, so I've given it a fair chance. It just doesn't grab me with its originality and quirkyness like the rest of Tin Hat Trio's repertoire.

If you, like me, are interested in the quirky and unique, I would instead of Sad Machinery recommend Carla Kihlstedt's (Tin Hat's violinist and vocalist) solo album, Two Foot Yard.
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