"Calling all moose. Or meece. Or mices. Or moose." That drunken babbling, interspersed with sniggering grunts, is one of the snippets gracing Analog America: A Four Course Meal of Found Sound (noise|order). Culled from tapes scavenged from thrift stores and garage sales by Seattle sound artists Amber Kai Morgan and Garrett Kelly, Analog America is a sonic treasure trove, a snapshot of a soon-to-be extinct audio document: the answering-machine cassette. Most of the tracks are short and hilarious. My favorite, "Get the Baklava," captures an anonymous voice machine-gunning a greeting worthy of sound poets like William S. Burroughs and Henri Chopin: "How do you do! hiding! high seas! how are you! hay! hi! ho!" He pushes baklava, too, imploring the listener to, "Take as many baklava as you want, have a half...."
Four other Seattle labels boast excellent releases: Pianist Dawn Clement continues to amaze on Break (Origin). When I interviewed her back in 2003, she cited a slew of influences including Ahmad Jamal, Andrew Hill, Lennie Tristano, and Mal Waldron. With drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Dean Johnson, Clement brings her own voice to the hallowed jazz piano trio. And though I'm not qualified to comment on the neat pop songs found on Aphonia Recordings' compilation, [ mm viii : #i ], KRGA, Giant Expanding Pictures, Myello Electronics, and others serve up electronic music leavened with drones and caressing staticky textures.
I also like the fidgety, twittering guitar strumming of Marc Manning's A Skeleton, Soon and Then Forever (Dragon's Eye). Somehow it's relaxing, even the soft swooning feedback concluding "Not now but sooner than expected." An enclosed booklet features Manning's pen-and-ink drawing whose obsessive hatching suggests a sonogram or a magnified Robert Crumb sketch.
Fans of cinematic electronic music should investigate Arsenije Jovanovic's Works for Radio 1967–2000, released by and/OAR, one of the leading labels for field recordings and experimental electronics. A cult composer and theater director—his "Island of the Dying Donkeys" is a classic—Jovanovic blends everyday sounds into abstract yet compelling soundscapes, the aural equivalent of filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni ("Blow Up," Red Desert").
Another unsung soundscape composer, Annea Lockwood, finally released her mammoth A Sound Map of the Danube (Lovely Music). From 2002 to 2004, Lockwood journeyed along the Danube River from Austria all the way to the Black Sea. Much like her landmark A Sound Map of the Hudson River, the three discs of Danube build slowly and masterfully, accruing sonic impressions of bleating sheep, riverboat captains, and the strangely hypnotic sound of washing, churning water. Danube comes with a huge, handsome map charting where each track was recorded.
I'm keeping Steve Reich's Daniel Variations (Nonesuch) on heavy rotation, though not for the title track, a grim (and to my ears, dry) elegy for slain journalist Daniel Pearl. I prefer the funky Variations for Vibes, Piano & Strings; composed in 2005, Variations shows how Reich's interlocking rhythmic figures and cut 'n' paste transitions owe a debt to Stravinsky and Coltrane. Don't miss it.
McCann's left-hand piano ostinato on "Compared to What" remains one of the great jazz grooves. Alas, the song's lyrics, "The president, he's got his war/Folks don't know just what it's for," remain all too true. Here, the singer and soul-jazz pianist revisits "Compared to What" and other numbers from his classic LP Swiss Movement with a quartet that includes saxophonist Javon Jackson. Also Sat May 3 and Sun May 4 at 7:30 pm only. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm, $24.50.
According to popular (and unproven) lore, J. S. Bach composed the Goldberg Variations to entertain the ailing and insomnia-prone Count Keyserlingk. Since Glenn Gould's legendary 1955 high-velocity recording for Columbia Records, the Goldbergs help fuel the debate on musical authenticity: period instruments (or replicas) versus modern instruments, adherence or avoidance of designated repeats, and proper tempi. Entering the fray, organist Daniel Sullivan presents his own transcription of the Goldberg Variations for organ. St. Mark's Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave E, 323-1040, 7:30 pm, $12/$18.
Seattle Opera stages Bellini's masterpiece. Count on both leads, Norah Amsellem (May 3, 7, 10, 14, and 17) and Eglise Gutiérrez (May 4, 11, and 16) to deliver the goods as Elvira, one of the most unforgettable roles in opera. Through Sat May 17; see www.seattleopera.org for details. Sung in Italian with supertitles in English. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, 389-7676, 7:30 pm, $25—$162.
THE YOUNG EIGHT
This string octet performs a slew of new music, including "Blue Note Room" and "Brooklyn Love for String Octet" by Michael DePaul; "Night Falls" and "African Rhapsody" by Michael Milulka; and "Hip-Hop Experience II," a transcription and medley of songs by 50 Cent, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, OutKast, and others. Edward Elgar's "Introduction and Allegro" rounds out the program. The Young Eight offer a free preview of this concert on Thurs May 1 at noon as part of the biweekly concert series at Seattle's City Hall. Pigott Auditorium, Seattle University, 901 12th Ave, 296-2244, 8 pm, $6—$20.
Formerly the Seattle Chamber Group, this ensemble performs the music of Poulenc, Satie, Edgard Varèse, and ex-Seattle composer David Mahler. Youngstown Cultural Art Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, 935-2999, 8 pm, $10.
MICHAEL GRIFFEN MEMORIAL
Spiking into my right ear, shouts of "NAW-ginnnnn!" often accompanied Noggin, the brilliant ear-hammering noise duo of violinist Michael Griffen and guitarist Eric Ostrowski, when I first heard them over a decade ago. Alas, Griffen passed away in January; tonight, Chaostic Magic (Eric Ostrowski and Corey Brewer), Adam Griffen, Memes, and Gust Burns honor the memory of an amazing musician and gentle soul. The Anne Bonny, 1355 E Olive Way, 382-7845, 8 pm, free.
Violist and composer Christian Asplund, cofounder of the Seattle Composers Salon and Seattle Experimental Opera, returns for a duo performance with percussionist Greg Campbell. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave, 322-1533, 8 pm, free, but donations accepted.