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Try to Keep Up: Müscle Wörship, December 16 at Bier Stube PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 11:25

Müscle Wörship. Photo by Jonathan Van Dine.

There’s a perfectly practical reason the Kansas-based band Müscle Wörship uses umlauts in its name – to protect people who would rather not know about a particular sexual fetish. So a word of advice to those folks: Don’t do an online search for the band without those umlauts!

But the combination of a somewhat-deviant punk-ish name and those metal dots (à la Motörhead) makes musical sense, too, as Müscle Wörship lives in the cracks between styles. There’s the lean aggression of punk, the experimental complexity of post-punk, the general heaviness of metal, extensive use of the tremolo bar that sometimes recalls the signature guitar sounds of both My Bloody Valentine and Neil Young, alternative tunings that bring to mind Sonic Youth, a grunge-y emphasis on hooks and distorted melody, and even hints of emo in the vocals.

The magic is that – on Müscle Wörship’s self-titled debut album from earlier this year – those disparate elements have been combined in a way that, against all odds, is nearly monolithic: 32 furious minutes of great and nearly great infectious hard rock. (And just to be clear: The whole record is 32 minutes.) The group’s music has three very different methods of persuasion – forceful enough to grab you by the throat, accessible enough to suck you in, and intricate enough to get lost in. In that sense, the name is wholly appropriate: This is music that’s all beautifully sculpted muscle.

An Arrangement for Everybody: Quad City Arts Visiting Artists Destino, December 15 at the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:24

DestinoSinger Joey Niceforo, the founder and frontman for the musical quartet Destino, first met two of his group’s other members – violinist Rosemary Siemens and pianist Roy Tan – when all three were active in the operatic ensemble The Canadian Tenors in 2006. The fourth member, tenor Terance Reddick, joined Destino two years later, and initially auditioned for the group by singing opera over the phone.

Yet if you plan on seeing these Quad City Arts visiting artists in their December 15 area concert, don’t expect a program composed solely of arias and cadenzas. It’s not every ensemble, after all, that can boast a repertoire ranging from “Ave Maria” to the Beatles’ “Yesterday” to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.”

Compelling Mystery: The QC Symphony Performs Jennifer Higdon’s Bewildering, Beautiful “Violin Concerto” PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Friday, 29 November 2013 05:09

Jennifer Higdon. Photo by J.D. Scott.Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto unfolds as a slow burn with flickering, firefly-like tones, then straps you into a sonic roller coaster, corkscrewing through ever-changing musical images. When you have experienced the sublime disorderliness of Higdon’s concerto, it seems miraculous that it ultimately makes sense; you have experienced something that was perceivable if not completely comprehensible.

The winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Music, Higdon’s concerto could be bewildering for audiences at the Quad City Symphony’s December 7 and 8 concerts, with its copious, fast-changing variations of instrumental combinations and dynamics: violin harmonics with small finger cymbals, tingling high woodwinds with low, growling cellos and basses, sudden changes in volume, and constantly contrasting textures of sound. The musical events might seem random at first, but somewhere in your brain, you should be able to recognize and reorganize them enough to get a sense of Higdon’s complex yet stunningly accessible musical thinking.

Too Few Detours: Minus Six, “Come Out from Where You Hide”; November 27 at RIBCO PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 22 November 2013 13:15

On Minus Six’s new album Come Out from Where You Hide, “Grassfed” boldly announces itself with gorgeously intertwined fast runs on sax and piano – downhill, then up, and back down again, a deft flash of early jazz grafted onto verses of piano rock. The instrumental breaks elevate the whole, with pianist Kevin Carton and saxophonist Matt Sivertsen given the space to playfully develop and explore.

It’s telling that these sections represent the whole of the song’s progression, as the verses and chorus are (relatively speaking) inert – which is where the album falters as a whole. The dominant style and overly consistent mix don’t sustain interest over the course of the record, and fertile detours don’t come quite often enough.

Soul in the Bits and Pieces: The Quad City Symphony, October 26 at the Adler PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 09:28

With a diverse, rich sampling of chamber music in its second Masterworks concert of the season, the Quad City Symphony on October 26 provided sensitive musical insight into the personal lives of composers. No symphonies, concertos, or philosophical tone poems here; rather the program included instrumental music for the stage, and vocal music about relationships with family and friends. The performance was consistently strong throughout with a strange musical shuffle near the end that almost ruined the warm, cozy atmosphere the musicians worked so hard to create.

To “Concert Conversations” participants sitting in the Adler just before the program, Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith explained that “in the old days, concerts were bookended by big works and filled in with bits and pieces of other works.” Franz Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde and Richard Strauss’ Suite from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme might have been the ”bookends” of the program, but the soul was found in the “bits and pieces” sung by guest soprano Sarah Shafer.

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