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City of Strangers

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Album Review

As a composer, arranger, and performer, Robert Burger has worked with a variety of musicians, including Bill Frisell, Marianne Faithfull, Rufus Wainwright, and Laurie Anderson. This release of selections from his music for film includes tracks from the soundtracks to the films Diminished Capacity (2008, directed by Terry Kinney), and Timescapes: A Portrait of New York (2005, directed by Jake Barton and James Sanders), and a track to accompany Ladislaw Starewicz's The Cameraman's Revenge (1912). The tracks are brief and aphoristic, most lasting only a minute or two, and they make their statement effectively and bow out before they've worn out their welcome. Burger's music is gently melodic, often rhythmically punchy, comfortable, and familiar sounding, with various folk traditions, jazz, and light rock influences filtered through a freely classical sensibility. He uses mostly a broad assortment of acoustic instruments (including piano, accordion, marimba, vibraphone, assorted percussion, violin, viola, ukulele, and harmonica), but some tracks include electric guitar and keyboards. The music is notable for its variety and for its delicate, inventive orchestrations. Many tracks have a folk-like sound, but the variety of instruments he uses allows for richer and more varied textures than many conventional, small folk ensembles. Even though the tracks are widely diverse in tone, style, and instrumentation, certain themes return on various tracks, and the album is fully successful as an integrated listening experience. The sound is clean and resonant.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Rob Burger was the accordionist in the chamber jazz group Tin Hat Trio and has toured with Bill Frisell, Don Byron, and Joey Baron, and appeared on Frisell's Tales from the Far Side soundtrack. Burger studied classical piano at Juilliard and explored different improvisational styles at the University of Massachusetts with Max Roach, Archie Shepp, and Yusef Lateef. He broadened his range to include Hammond organ, vintage keyboards like the Optigan and Chamberlin, toy pianos, modern keyboards, and...
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City of Strangers, Rob Burger
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