Title: The Night Parade
Artist: Joe Frawley
Release Date: 2015 Oct 1
Genre: Indie-Classical / Ambient
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Joe Frawley;s The Night Parade is the second release from the composer, pianist, collagist in 2015. While come composers are hard pressed to record a work every couple of years, Joe seems to have occasional bursts of works that come together in a short period. Of course, I am always happy to hear a new release from Joe whenever he is able to produce one.
Joe Frawley: The Night Parade
Joe has an attraction with the theme of the night and sleep, frequently mixing found sounds into collages that infuse his pieces with a hazy dream-like quality. In fact, this has become so much a part of his signature that when I reviewed ‘A Week of Fevers‘ I said:
If I were to level any complaint against this work is that it’s almost all a little too perfect. The haziness is perfect, the collage effects are perfect. What is missing is some more dynamics, and maybe a little bit of an edge.
And I went on to suggest that possibly the process of building collages is something that has become old-hat to Joe, and he possibly needed something to stir things up a bit. Let me state right here: ‘The Night Parade’ is exactly the kind of work I was hoping for.
Joe continues to work with many of the elements that he has skillfully honed over the last eight years of his career, however this work moves in several different directions that bring a new dimension to his writing.
This is a work about the stock characters Columbina and Pierrot from the Commedia dell’Arte as having been derived from Pantomime. These characters have existed for centuries, and have been used in as many settings as can be imagined. In Frawley’s hands they are part of the mystery of the night and are as timeless as the Lydian tonality that can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece. Yes, this is still a setting of the night and there are some of the hazy elements contained in these works, however these are pieces that are more clearly defined by the piano compositions, the collages that accompany the pieces are the setting for the characters to express themselves through the music.
Another difference with this work: the addition of improvisation-based pieces. Most of the previous works from Joe Frawley have been extremely well composed, arranged and produced. And, on this release you don’t have the feeling that these works are any different. However, several pieces (including ‘Pantomime’, ‘Lydian Column’ and ‘Morning’) are based on improvisations by Joe Frawley and Greg Conte (guitar). While these compositions feel immediately part of the whole work, I have the impression that it goes deeper. I have the feeling that improvisations brought Joe to a new sense of line and style in these works. A welcome difference from his other recent works.
I also have to single out the title track of this work: ‘The Night Parade’. Why? because I was surprised to not an element that I hadn’t caught in Joe’s work before: a slight touch of the blues. Yes, there is a very light hint of blues in this composition. I don’t want to give away too much about this release, but there are several other pieces that caught me off guard by incorporating elements that I hadn’t heard in Joe’s work before.
As I stated above, I always welcome a new work from Joe Frawley. His unique sense of style is always engaging and makes for a listening experience that is highly immersive. The Night Parade stands out from the last few works Joe has released. The addition of improvisation based compositions seems have brought a new perspective on the placement of line and melody within these compositions. While a night time setting is not new, the stock characters of Columbina and Pierrot are and they have taken on their own dimension within this work.
This is a work that I can offer an unreserved recommendation. It maintains many of the elements that Joe has become known for over the years, while managing to move in some different directions that make it even more interesting on repeated listens. Seriously, listen to this work and be captivated.