Sarah Pillow: Remixes
“The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”
This bold statement is prominently featured on the back of this CD. Is it true? Sarah Pillow proves that it is.
As I said in my review of her previous album, Nuovemusiche, this is not for the narrow-minded. I’m extremely happy to find that Ms Pillow has continued in the same vein.
This is an album of old, very old music. 17th Century music to be exact. Played with Harpsichord, Lute, Viola, etc. With gifted musicians, including Brand X’s John Goodsall and Marc Wagnon. And of course, the wonderfully rich and enrapturing voice of Sarah Pillow.
This album takes you down a trip through history. Songs in English, Italian and French which Sarah Pillow manages to deliver convincingly. One can easily imagine her on a Renaissance stage performing these masterpieces. Luckily, she’s not of the Renaissance, so we have the privilege of appreciating her. Let’s keep her, I say.
And if the thirteenth song ends and leaves you wanting more, well… Put in the second CD. The same 13 songs, but this time with 21st Century instruments and arrangements. Mindblowing! One realizes that even music that is 400 years old can be adapted to our modern world: Einstein was right. The performances on the second disc are obviously quite different from those on the first, but certainly not less magnificent. Can you tell I love this album?
Sarah Pillow is an incredible artist. A delight for the ears, but more, a grand pleasure for the soul. If we didn’t have her we wouldn’t even know how to invent her. She’s in a class by herself. Do yourself a favour: buy this album. It will allow you to greatly expand your horizons and discover how truly universal music is.
As for which arrangements are best, the traditional or the modern, I leave that to the listener. I listen to the first CD, then put in the second and spend two very happy hours!
Oh, and pay attention after the last song on the second disc for a vocal-only rap version of (unfortunately only) the beginning of “To Lillies”. Hilarious!
Not for the narrow-minded.
I must admit that I was quite reluctant to put this CD on. The press kit announced that it was a mix of Baroque, Jazz and Progressive Rock. Baroque, for those of you who aren’t all that familiar with Classical music, is what Beethoven used to do… Although Progressive Rock is a mix of Classical, Rock and Jazz, this is in an altogether different direction.
On the one hand I was excited at the possibilities offered here. On the other, I was a bit scared at the result. Well, my hat goes off to Sarah Pillow! And to Buckyball Records for sensing the enormous potential in this lady and this genre.
Nuove Musiche (The New Music) finds its title in a songbook written by Giulio Caccini in 1602. It was an important song book and Sarah wanted to use it as an introduction to this musical project.
Now the whole thing sounds a lot like a Rock band playing Classical music. Although it manages to retain a modern sound. As if the music was written yesterday. All of the songs on this album were written between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The lyrics are often in Italian, while at other times you’ll hear French and English (The folks at Buckyball were nice enough to translate them all in English in the booklet. Judging from the translated French, as I can read the original, it has been well done). Many talents to accompany that superb voice.
“Amarilli Mia Belle” (Amarillis, My Beauty), where a picking guitar, filled with effects kind of reminds you of a Heavy Metal song. But instead of rising to a thunderous chorus, a Classical guitar is played marvellously. A great introduction to the album.
“Diddo’s Lament” is another beauty of a piece. Filled with distorted electric guitars, without ever going overboard. Always hinting at something very powerful. A powerful lament, indeed!
The only two tracks I was a little less enthused about were the fourth (Il Mio Cocente Ardore) and the last (Can He Excuse My Wrongs?). Not that they aren’t good, they are. Only these are straightforward Jazz pieces that seem out of place on this particular album.
The overall sound is extremely fresh, while remaining Classical at the same time. Extremely innovative. There’s even a cow in there somewhere… (Really, there is!) Very well done. Hopefully, this style will become more popular and Ms. Pillow will give us more of it.