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Mouthfull of Ecstasy

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Album Review

Using 16 different texts from James Joyce's all-but-impenetrable novel Finnegan's Wake, vocalist Phil Minton, pianist Veryan Weston, saxophonist John Butcher, and drummer Roger Turner have created a mosaic of sound upon which narrative itself — both musical and literal — are entwined in a manner that suggests that they are indeed inseparable from one another at their base. This quartet made free use of Joyce's text, not as a way of illuminating it, but as a way of illuminating their work together as a musical group. Simultaneously, Joyce's tome, when plundered so recklessly, becomes the airy musical work of language he so clearly intended it to be. Whether Minton's guttural moaning and groaning the words or Butcher's sputtering alto collides with Weston's augmented chords while slicing Minton's phrasing, the result is the same: something new and outrageous, something so far past literacy and musicality it negates them both historically. And yes, both text (Minton's vocal is mixed down to be equal with the instruments) and accompaniment move along at a pace that takes the "art" out of them, too. This is drunken dangerous music, primordial literature delivered in a manner that is as immediate as the sunshine and yet as careful as only an improviser can be.

Mouthfull of Ecstasy, Paul Minton Quartet
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