||We Are The Rowboats CD (2003) |
Krakatoa music CDs This youthful New York-based instrumental quartet combines keyboards (Valerie Opielski), guitars, mandolin, violin (Glendon Jones), drums (Ely Levin), and bass (Ted Casterline), supplemented here by occasional guest spots on cello, accordion, organ, and flute. Given the musical evidence, it's not surprising that three members of Krakatoa began their professional careers as members of a pit band (the Lost Art of Puppet Orchestra) for an avant-garde Philadelphia puppet theater. The group's musical influences are predictably flexible and far-ranging, functioning as hypothetical soundtracks to a wide variety of human (and puppet) scenarios. Rock, classical chamber music, surf music, jazz, and folk are all fuel for Krakatoa's musical fires, but the strongest consistent influence on this CD is probably the Penguin Café Orchestra. Krakatoa is more rockish than the PCO, and certainly less twee, but their use of the winsome PCO formula of strummed rhythm guitar, pizzicato strings, and repetitive, minimalist melodies from violins and cellos creates a strong musical identity. Occasional restrained use of chirping frog and twittering bird samples adds a touch of bucolic charm, and some periodic electronic embellishments also work against predictability. The group shows off their classical chops with a decidedly left-of-center version of Katchaturian's "The Sabre Dance," and they also display a harder metal edge at times, thanks chiefly to Jones' use of an effectively skronky lead electric guitar. (The last track, "Numbskull," begins and ends with a sampled rant from a belligerent party animal.) This is an enjoyable recording, start to finish, filled with surprises, strange interludes, twists, turns, and a wide assortment of musical moods. ~ Bill Tilland
Recorded at Foot/LB Studios, Brooklyn, New York.
Personnel: Ted Casterline (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, baritone guitar, percussion, loops, sampler); Glen Jones (guitar, cuatro, mandolin, violin, electric violin, hand claps); Val Opielski (guitar, piano, Clavinet, organ, keyboards, hand claps, percussion, sound effects); Christopher Tignor (violin); Myla Goldberg (flute, accordion); Ben Freeman (piano, organ, Wurlitzer organ, synthesizer, electronics); Bradford Reed (synthesizer); Ely Levin (drums, hand claps, percussion); Rami El Asser (dumbek); NYPD (siren).
Audio Mixers: Val Opielski; Ben Freeman.
Recording information: Ben's Bedroom; Foot; LB Studios, Brooklyn, NY.
Photographer: Matt Westlake.
Krakatoa: Glendon Jones, Ted Casterline, Valerie Opislski, Ely Levin.