Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CD Review: “Homage” by Portland Cello Project

Portland Cello Project


Presented to today for your personal edification, your general cultural growth, your mind/soul expansion and deep fertilization.The Portland Cello Project, classically trained, well…cellists one and all. But they may have skipped classes here and there, and crossed the street, in a manner of speaking, into the indie and hip-hop world on the other side. As the title would imply, this is their homage to such urban composers as Kanye, Jay-Z, L'il Wayne, Talib Kwele and others.

Clock them performing Kanye's "All of the Lights" live:

Kayne West’s “All Lights Out” cello-ized.

These guys truly are amazing performers and their vision is fresh, alive and beautiful. They do metal and hip hop covers but also play Bach festivals. What’s even better is the way they turn on crowds of all ages. The reaction is usually reserved for walls of amplifiers in stadiums, not artists like this. They recently performed Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power in its entirely in Portland recently  and they SHREDDED (literally, their bows were shredded). 

Classical, as applied to any art; books, poetry, painting, and music, is defined as transcending any fad or era. that is why Bach and Beethoven’s music is still important today. That’s why Bob Dylan’s songs and his contribution to music were recently honored with the highest civilian award this nation offers. Piccaso was once just a new, pop painter, but his work came to transcend an era, an artistic movement. All things classical were once pop, once new. So where does tomorrows “classical” music come from? The Portland Cello Project may just be mining tomorrows classical music in exploring todays pop artists.

From thundering cellos and drums transforming hip-hop songs, to whispered melodies by contemporary composers, to hip-hop themes turned into baroque-style puzzles, Homage blurs musical genres and styles. Covers include "She Will" (L'il Wayne)"That's My Bitch"  and "H.A. M." (Kanye West and Jay-Z) and a classical canon inspired by L'il Wayne's "Lollipop" that was arranged by PCP's founder/arranger Douglas Jenkins (originally for the Oregon Bach Festival).The "Lollipop Canon" and "Fugue on a Monstrous Theme" (inspired by Kanye's "Monster") were both recorded at the oldest church in Portland.

L’il Wayne’s "Lollipop" cello-ized

Portland Cello Project Press:

"If you could see how crazy everyone around here gets whenever the PCP cello-izes a new hip-hop or pop hit (which is a lot), you'd understand why their Thing is the best Thing going in Portland," - IFC'sPortlandia Blog

"An ace group of rotating cellists who take on everything from Britney's "Toxic" to the Dandy Warhols and postmodern Estonian composer Arvo Part in their one-off performances"  - Entertainment Weekly

"It doesn't get much more genre-crossing than this," -

"The PCP has come to epitomize Portland's offbeat music scene, one where boundaries are blurred and cellos are in abundance." - The Strad

"This indie orchestra gives classical music a jolt of energy," - Spin Magazine

"The Portland Cello Project's all-cello performances of original arrangements of everything from Beethoven to Britney Spears andattract guest vocalists from the city's indie-rock scene ... their concertsfeature music by composers ranging from Bach, Khachaturian and Lili Boulangerto Lil' Wayne." - Wall Street Journal

"A group of cello-wielding maniacs"  - Spacelab Magazine

"[PCP] concerts are purposely suitable for all demographics: boogie-ing grannies, head nodding hipsters, budding middle-school musicians and everyone in between because bringing everyone together in a spirit of collaboration only adds to the philosophy of diversity that PCP proudly upholds."  - CMJ

These folks tour quite often, so check their website for dates and other recorded music.

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Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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