Brooke, Nick – “Border Towns” – [Innova/American Composers]
OH. MY. GOD. This is the most outrageous, unique and amazing thing I have heard in a long time. It is jaw droppingly intricate, intense, tight, profound and one of the most irritating pieces of music I have listened to. I want to throw it through the window while I grab and hug it closely to me. So what is it?
Nick Brooke, the composer, has a very heady description of what this is all about which makes sense. It is complicated. In laymen’s terms though, it is about looking at Americana and American music, the American song book, the common person’s songs and sounds, a merging of ephemera and high art, and how all of these go together. It is about the physical, emotional and psychic borders that people put up between themselves and the music that represents these borders. It is about how these border should not exist and how a new sound can be created. I think that is it.
Nick Brooke traveled across the USA for two years, focusing on his idea of US border towns, and interviewed people about music. He listened. He purchased the music. He learned. He combined this knowledge. This is all also created on the knowledge of the Border Blasters, 100+kw transmitters that were placed across the US border from Mexico in the 50’s and early 60’s to infiltrate US radio with sounds not being heard in the US.
But what does it sound like? Unlike anything else. It is the ultimate mash up. Segments, seconds long of classic or rare songs are sung by a team of 7 performers. They sing and chant and bounce around with mundane field recordings or recorded segments of musical performance. And they are sometimes thematic. Western music, classic Americana like Stephen Foster and George Gershwin, religious spirituals, folk tunes, blues, you name it. It is here. The speed at which this stuff pours out at you is unbelievable which is why in one sitting it drives me crazy. The mind can not take it. Oh, did I tell you this was presented as a stage performance with the singers doing movement along with the mash up? Unreal.
It will drive you and your listeners nuts and all will be thankful for it.