Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Allen Ginsberg and the Kronos Quartet

2006 seems to be a great year for anniversaries. Mozart's 250th, Shostakovich's 100th, and of course, the 50th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg's epic and extremely important poem Howl. Howl was obscene, controversial, and as it turns out, timeless. It brought the Beats to national consciousness and foreshadowed the turmoil of the sixties.
This disc, Howl U.S.A., is perhaps one of the most unique and interesting in my collection, more important as a historical document than as a piece of music. It features the famous avant-garde chamber group The Kronos Quartet accompanying Ginsberg himself reading Howl. The music was written by Lee Hyla. The Kronos never steals the show, instead providing creepy and violent reactions to Ginsberg's reading, sometimes synching up with Ginsberg's profound words in powerful ways. Howl would be more than satisfactory for a disc, but Kronos also impressively backs three other spoken-word works. The most interesting is a darkly humorous accompaniment to a sample taken from a presentation to the American people by J. Edgar Hoover. He "assures" us that the FBI is "as close to you as your telephone" while the Kronos imitates air raid sirens.

Kronos Quartet- Howl, U.S.A.

Requests? Feedback? Feel free to comment.


At February 22, 2006, Blogger stu said...

wow thanks great stuff.still loving the Steve Reich you posted so ta again.
i've also heard tell of an album of the Kronos with Asha the bollywood singer you have'nt got that n all have you?


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