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Stick Music

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Album Review

In the decade since post-rock first reared its head, coming from the unlikely climate of Chicago, the post in post-rock has pushed itself to the point of being utterly non-rock. And in the way that much of today's best underground hip-hop sounds nothing like hip-hop, groups like Clogs would probably prefer not to argue the merits of their sound compared to the genre-fication given out to them. Fact is, this multinational ensemble makes what by all rights and reasons should be called classical music, if only for it's guitar, viola, percussion and bassoon lineup. Opening their third with a solo utterance by violinist Padma Newsome ("the Australian one," as the fan mags like to call him), things evolve slowly into "Pencil Stick," a plucking loop of eighth notes that betray a heavy Steve Reich debt. The plucking turns to strumming on "Beating Stick," an exercise in dynamics which admittedly could be referenced back to pre-post-rock deities Slint. But "River Stick" makes no such considerations to easy repetitive form, preferring to pick melodies out of the air like butterflies, holding on for just a moment before letting them go to flutter off in no perceivable pattern. Between all these stick songs are the a cappella drift of "Lady Go" and the passionately quiet/loud violin and guitar on "Pitasi" and "My Mister "Never Ending Bliss." And if post-rock thinks they invented dynamics, than there are quite a few music students that would like some words.


Formed: New Haven, CT

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Consisting of four classically trained musicians (Bryce Dessner, Padma Newsome, Rachael Elliott, and Thomas Kozumplik), the Clogs are an avant-garde chamber ensemble whose works encompass a wide range of styles, including (but not limited to) jazz, post-rock, and chamber music. They met in the late '90s at the Yale School of Music, where Newsome, originally hailing from the University of Adelaide in Australia, was studying on a Fulbright scholarship. Drawing from influences as disparate as romanticism,...
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Stick Music, Clogs
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