Review: Jonathan Wilson, ‘rare bird’


Review: Laurie Anderson&Kronos quartet, ‘login’

Note: NPR’s First Listen audio will be reduced after the release of the album. However, you can still use the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page to listen.

Laurie Anderson & cronos quartet, landing.

Hurricane sandy is a terrible natural disaster, and nobody CARES to revisit it, except perhaps Laurie Anderson’s brilliance. In the “login”, her 70 – minute features cronus quartet multimedia works, she did not review the storm – sometimes with dry wit – reflect on how we deal with the loss. Through the dreamy fusion of electronics, acoustic instruments, high-tech software and sound, she finds meaning in this mysterious world.

On October 29, 2012, when sandy reached the New Jersey shore, the record-breaking 32.5 feet of waves surged into New York harbor. Anderson’s home in lower Manhattan was flooded.

“After the storm, I went down to the basement, and everything was floating,” she intoned in a faint, unspeakable voice. Keyboard, she says, projector, props, newspapers, books and so on all is lost, “I never carefully saved everything, leaving rubbish, and I thought, how beautiful it is.” Most music seems to boast in the waves, sometimes even violent.

In 2013, the debut of the landing, in chronological order, several fantasy detours. This album opener, such as story: “CNN predict monster storm”, “the wind whistle through the dark city”, “water rise” and “our streets are heihe river”, which opens a gentle decline theme reminiscent of Cesar Frank’s violin sonata.


The Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson perform Landfall: Scenes from my new novel at the Barbican Hall in London on Friday 28 June 2013.
Photo by Mark Allan

The main mood of landings is gloom. As the electricity disappeared and we moved to the hotel, cronos suddenly appeared in a reed-like tone with a down-regulated melody, with a rough industrial effect. The “twisted street signs” roll in the chaos, and “never think of it” is a fat, rhythmic groove that cuts through the dirt.

And then it goes wrong.

“I was in a Dutch karaoke bar trying to sing a song in Korean,” Mr. Anderson once reported in a lighthearted melody. “When the software crashed, I just got a bunch of stuff.”

Another form of loss came in the middle of the landing, in which Anderson described a large book that lists the planet’s extinct species in the voice of darth vader. Spotted lizards, bush cows and “sloth 15”. She says the book savors every word, “about 30 weasels.” (referring to books, Anderson has just published one of her own, “everything I lost in the flood”, a series of articles about live performances.

It’s fascinating to think of something magical in the release of audio – only multimedia. In the first performance (I attended), Anderson deployed a software that translates Kronos’s voice into words and hieroglyphics on giant screens. In addition to light cues and stage smoke, the evening feels like a cross between story time and a ritual. Even so, music is like an imaginative, inner and sound music, and you may have a better picture of yourself. Finally, though sandy had lost her money to Anderson, she also gained something – another compelling story.


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