Sunday, November 16, 2014


I am quite delighted to announce that the crucial WFMU show "Bodega Pop" will devote all three hours of its weekly programming to this here web-log as our 10th anniversary festivities continue. This Wednesday 7:00PM Eastern time on Woof-Moo's "Give The Drummer Some" stream (not the over-the-air broadcast) the party commences. Your host-with-the-most Gary Sullivan helms a blog also called "Bodega Pop", and its tales of international music-collecting derring-do fills me with insane envy. Damn, this guy's got a great collection. And now, my latest Bandcamp discovery:

AllMusic said about today's album: "In the running for strangest novelty item of the year [2007], A Drop in the Glass is nevertheless an impressive display of musicality." Indeed. GlassDuo from Poland have constructed what they claim is the world's largest wine glass instrument, some 57 pieces strong.  Yes, wine glasses. You know how you can wet your finger and rub it along the rim of the glass to produce a musical, if somewhat squeaky, tone? Well, these two have taken this old idea to a virtuoso level. Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition" is one of those classical war-horses that I'd never really given much thought to, but that was before I heard the familiar opening "Promenade" performed on something I am now drinking out of.

Other highlights: Chopin's "Prelude" (tho I prefer Serge Gainsbourg's remake "Jane B"), the clanging of metal percussion (a trash can, perhaps?) halfway into "Great Gate of Kiev", and the medley of hits from Grieg's proto-goth "Peer Gynt." After a while you may forget the unusual methods used to produce these sounds, and just listen to it for it's musical merits. It's available for purchase, or listen to the free stream:

GlassDuo: "A Drop In The Glass"

An mp3 for ya: 

GlassDuo: "In The Hall of the Mountain King" (excerpt from track 10)

I'm finally listening to some proper classical music. My mother will be so proud.


Mike O'Donnell said...

Help! I had to buy the Glass Duo album, and then I got carried away with the musical beauty of Great Gate of Kiev contrasting with the total programmatic disconnect (it don't sound like a massive great gate on Glass Harmonica) and then I had to hunt up the Mussorgsky on Internet Archive and of course there are 2 different piano performances and 4 performances of 3 different orchestral arrangements and ...

Mr Fab said...

Falling down internet rabbit holes can be a beautiful thing - probably how I discovered GlassDuo in the first place.

Count Otto Black said...

Without wishing to sound elitist or anything, I'm a bit of a classical music enthusiast, because I like music of any kind so long as it's good, and "good" is a very subjective quality. Unconventional performances and weird instruments are nothing new.

Wagner in particular constantly demanded that new instruments be invented to get the sounds he wanted - in the first part of the Ring Cycle, the percussionists are required to strike anvils tuned to particular pitches. He commissioned most of these gimmicks, including the Wagner tuba, so-called because it's required for almost nothing except his operas, from a guy called Adolphe Sax, who one day got really creative and invented a wondrous new instrument in the hope that Wagner would use it in his next opera, thereby making it very popular. He didn't, but it somehow became popular anyway. It's called the saxophone.

Musicians throughout the ages have been weird. Hector Berlioz wrote an oratorio called "The Damnation Of Faust" in which the voices of Satan and Hell are represented by multiple singers with entirely different vocal ranges singing at the same time in a made-up language with incredibly long words. A good performance of this will raise a few hairs on the back of your neck!

Oh, and there's that guy Albrechtsberger, who commissioned Beethoven to write a piece of music for his orchestra of steam-powered robot angels... I'm not making this up! Google it! Admittedly it's a terrible piece of music, but even today, he'd get away with that because HOLY SHIT AN ORCHESTRA OF STEAM-POWERED ROBOT ANGELS!!!

Count Otto Black said...

Oops! Did I say it was Albrechtsberger who had the robot angel orchestra? Nope, he was the guy who wrote classical concertos for ridiculous instruments like the Jew's Harp. I meant Maelzel. Sorry.

Mr Fab said...

And speaking of rabbit holes, just spent too much time reading about Maelzel. fascinating, but no videos of orchestras joined by his automatons playing Beethoven, just vids of his most famous creation, the metronome. An invention that has its uses, but honestly Id much rather watch some steam-powered robot angels.

Mike O'Donnell said...

Hey, I thought I was one of the best rabbit hole explorers, but I can't find a single picture of Maelzel's robot angels. I've seen a coupla pictures of the great panharmonicon, and I think it had steam power, but I didn't see a single angel. If anyone has a link to the angels, please post it on the bulletin board at the source of the Nile.