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Newsome, Sam : Sopranoville – New Works for Prepared and Non-prepared Saxophone
I happen to love the saxophone. That's why I was a little surprised to be unfamiliar with Sam Newsome. Newsome has been around for many years now earning a fine reputation as a tenor saxophonist in the early '90s. Being the consummate professional he wasn't happy with his sound and switched to soprano sax and hasn't looked back since.
His last few releases have been completely solo efforts featuring only soprano sax beginning with Art Of Soprano Sax, Vol. 1 (2012) followed by The Straight Horn of Africa: A Path to Liberation (Art of the Soprano, Vol. 2) (2014) and finally his latest album Sopranoville: New Works for Prepared and Non-prepared Saxophone (2017).
On his latest album Newsome has pushed the limits on his saxophone exploring experimental and avant-garde sounds. He has prepared his instrument a number of different ways like placing scotch tape over the neck opening. Putting holes in the tape modifies the sound creating a non-traditional soundscape to say the least. He also uses a dangling sound source like bell chimes ("The Quiet Before the Storm") and wood chimes ("The Straight Horn of the Bush"). The former has a nice melody with oriental elements while the latter consists of the random sounds of the chimes and clear drawn out sax notes. The sax work is very nice. That said there are some problems for me, particularly when the music ventures into complete experimental/avant-garde territory. The weird esoteric sounds in "Hiss and Kiss", the rhythmic tribal tapping in "Clicktopia Part 1", the chaotic mix of multi-tracked sax lines in "Giant Steps" and the extremely high notes of "Jagged Breath" are not exactly pleasant on the ears.
So, for me Sopranoville is a mixed bag. On the one hand I appreciate music that explores unconventional soundscapes but I still need something to reel me in. The occasional hook comes to mind but unfortunately they are few and far between. Your mileage may vary so listen to some samples and decide for yourself.
1. The Quiet Before the Storm (3:06)
2. The Doppler Effect (1:39)
3. Horns of Plenty (2:32)
4. Hiss and Kiss (1:39)
5. Clicktopia Part 1 (1:52)
6. Jagged Breath (2:23)
7. Micro-suite for Fifteen Sopranos (1:46)
8. The Straight Horn of the Bush (2:51)
9. Giant Steps (3:27)
10. Sunrise (1:35)
11. Two-man Orchestra (1:46)
12. Soprano-ology (1:58)
13. The Reed Straw Effect (1:56)
14. The Morning After (2:21)
15. Against the Grain (1:39)
16. Clicktopia Part 2 (2:39)
17. Japanese Court Music (2:39)
18. Clicktopia Part 3 (3:11)
19. The Soprano-sphere (1:20)
20. The Funhouse Effect (2:29)
21. Deadline (4:14)
22. The Great Debate (3:45)
Added: April 30th 2017
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
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