Joan Jeanrenaud & PC Munoz: Pop-Pop (2010)
The Kronos Quartet integrated chamber environs with free-jazz, minimalist composers like Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and other groundbreaking artists or genres that traversed the roads less travelled. Cellist Joan Jeanrenaud was a vital player during the unit's 1978-1999 run, leaving behind a treasure trove of important work as the band became proprietor of a cutting edge classical-meets-almost-anything legacy. As a solo artist, Jeanrenaud has branched out into several probing and largely unique projects. With Pop-Pop, a collaboration with drummer/percussionist PC Munoz, the cellist aligns an opaque temporal plane with elements of rock, funk, and house music amid a virtuous slant towards the avant spectrum. Not overproduced or tenuous, Jeanrenaud forges a curiously interesting and entertaining program, spiked with pop-like simplicity and grooves entrenched in various colors and flavors.
The duo translucently morphs cyclic patterns and deviant hooks into the production. Moreover, Jeanrenaud pulls out the proverbial stops where she injects almost every conceivable element of classically-derived offshoots into the big picture. Jeanrenaud's nimble plucking, sonorous staccato lines and intricately constructed theme-building exercises offer an uncanny, yet meaningful contrast to Munoz's steady beats and odd-metered treatments. With electronics tossed into the mix at key intervals, the music hints at multiple mediums without straying too far into the netherworld.
"Reveille" possesses an airy, capacious and somewhat ominous motif, sparked by Munoz's drum fills, as the musicians inject a mild sense of urgency throughout. The plot thickens on "Snake," a composition underscored by a sublime funk cadence, spacey effects and the cellist's haunting notes.
Ultimately, the duo tantalizes and entertains amid these attainable yet slightly off-center storylines. It's a balanced approach, although the artists often get to the point in concise fashion without overstating their plight. Pop-Pop is a hip and twisted modern era magical mystery tour for purveyors of homogenous concepts, intertwined into a musical form that wondrously challenges the hard and fast rules of deployment.
Track Listing: 33 1/3; Noise; Where's Raymond?; Panama Canal; Reveille; Snake; Helicopter; Hopper; Dive; Freakbeat.
Personnel: Joan Jeanrenaud: acoustic and electric cello, effects; PC Munoz: electronic and acoustic drums and percussion.