Sarah Peebles, Oliver Schroer and Stewed Tomatoes, NOMA, Michael Ondaatje, Richard Windeyer, Kô Ishikawa, Wende Bartley, The Kavkasia Trio, George Gao, Wang Zheng Ting, Cinnamon Sphere, Jin Hi Kim, Nexus, Robert Cruickshank, Lori Freedman, Handslang
This is an activist CD done by Sarah Peebles, of Toronto in opposition to the Ontario Government's Lands for Life initiative, which is a major redefinition of the long-term plans for use of Ontario forests.
It is a compilation of recent and less recent works or many musicians, in many styles,: they cohabitate well, sharing some traits of calmness, introspection, contemplativeness. Curiously, none is directly about the forest. Some of the artists claim a symbolic relation to nature, but only two allude to the outdoors (Nexus, imitatively; Windeyer, by his material).
Oliver Schroer and Stewed Tomatoes present an adroit collage of 5/4 (Trichy Sankaran, always a subtle percussionist, on mrdangam) on 4/4. Michael Ondaatje reads Desert Dog, a text of trains and eros, to improvised music with jazz instruments (NOMA), with passages in 5/4 (hello, odd metres). We hear several solo tracks on Asian instruments: Ishikawa on shô playing a score of Sarah Peebles; George Gao on erhu, a Chinese fiddle; Wang Zheng Ting on sheng, a mouth-organ. Laurie Freedman plays the bass clarinet. There are collective pieces for voices: Wende Bartley's group with Randy Raine-Reusch, MAXed into eerie streams ; and The Kavkasia Trio in rich and clear harmonic frictions. There is a whole range of naturalness: R. Windeyer's fine-grained listening from the shore of a lake-scape perturbed for a moment by a motorboat ; Nexus playing birdcalls in a reverberating ambience; the acoustic instruments mentioned above; the electric guitars of the angry closing piece by Hanslang's trio's, and those of NOMA; and electronic/computer music: Wende Bartley, and R. Cruickshank's almost monochrome, elongated synthesizer sounds . The most eclectic may be the track by where Sarah Peebles's Cinnamon Sphere combines samples, guitar and Korean komungo.
There is overall a rich variety of textures, resources, all in an intent of seriousness of purpose (with a smile in the agitated birds of Nexus) and concentration -- which reflects Sarah Peeble's orientation.
Is the question of forest reallocation alarming? The round of consultations and roundtables on Lands for Life has ended with little agreement between the industry, private users like anglers, and conservationist ecologists. For updates, contact the Partnership for Public Lands (recipient of proceeds of the CD) at 1.888.371.5263 or read its site at http://www.web.net/wild, and read the official site at http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/lfl.