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FRITH, FRED: The Happy End Problem
A new recording, and instantly a Fred classic. Two, related, small-ensemble works for 6 and 7 musicians respectively - mostly strings of one sort or another, with percussion, flute and clarinet occasionally, and electronics. Fred, violinist Carla Kilsteht and percussionist Willie Wynant play throughout, providing continuity across the pieces as the music constantly unfolds into new textures and dialects. Melody, harmony and rhythm are omnipresent, though not always obviously colluding, and the music moves with constant assurance, never hesitating and never marking time. There are some affinities with Nicola Kodjbashia's luminous 'Solitary Walker' (which it predates) in its use of minimal instrumentation to maximum effect, popular materials, exquisite articulation and a kind of modest transcendence. The necessity and simplicity of these pieces conceals a catalogue of experimental techniques and novel ideas; there are those who'd have squeezed a score of albums from this material. A gem. Buy it. Carla Kilsteht shines throughout.