OPUS: CLASSICS Live," the radio series presented weekly by WBFO-FM in the State University of Buffalo's Allen Hall, featured a performance by "A Host of Others" Wednesday evening.
This group comprises guitarists Al Kryszak, Craig Bove, Joe Bacon and Brad Amidon. The concert featured five works by Kryszak, two of which received their first performances.
The music was largely improvisational, proceeding through a sectional approach to contrasting surface textures.
These textures consisted mostly of amorphous globs of asynchronous sound, juxtaposing extremes of speed, density and volume between sections. The performance was not characterized by any particularly expert playing, and the music itself seemed more closely related to sketches than to finished work. Yet, there were moments of interest, most significantly in respect to timbre.
One of the premieres, and the most successful piece on the program, was titled "Men and Women" and included the addition of a trio of female vocalists under the name of "Code Blue."
Men and women were supposed to be represented by instruments and voices, respectively; the "men" proceeding in a rather chaotic and self-indulgent manner, while the "women" held a more civilized posture. Over the course of the piece the "men" evidently succumbed to a metaphoric feminization, eventually subsiding into a refreshingly gentle acceptance of their fate.
Presumably, this was some kind of glorification of the presumably feminine talent for taming. The primarily homophonic vocal parts were well written and nicely performed by singers Ann Janish, Lisa Stanton and Beth Ann Kotecki, although I was unable to follow the text.
Another high point of the program was Kryszak's solo guitar playing in "Bad Bells." Here, Kryszak demonstrated his genuinely original talent on the guitar, and I would happily have listened to a good deal more of it. His technique is extremely quirky and peculiar, incorporating various unusual methods of sound product-ion, resulting in a delightfully bizarre and colorful weirdness.
The eventual interruption of the solo by the ensemble, although apparently the impetus for the piece, was a disappointment.
The other premiere, "The Academy of St. Martin in the Freight Yards," was an atmospheric adventure into various timbrel modifications of the guitar. Beginning with a quartet of bowed guitars and eventually utilizing wah-wah pedals in a variety of color changes, it built to a climax of strummed chords and was abruptly cut off.
"Uncle Ned Juggling," featured sectional alternation between rapid unsynchronized noodling and picks hammered on the fingerboard, with little development of either idea.
Eventually it broke into a more attractive final section.
"Risk No Seashells" was again concerned with contrasting sections, none of which were sustained for an adequate length.