Stephen Mackey Lonely Motel worth checking into

If you’re a fan of eighth blackbird, you wont’ be disappointed with this new release. If you’re not familiar with this outstanding contemporary music ensemble, Lonely Motel can serve as a good introduction to the group

Stephen Mackey based his work on a series of slides used for psychological testing. Subjects are shown various images and are asked to react to them. Mackey does the same thing musically, and just as with the test subjects, the answers are often deeply significant and often confused.

Sonically the work lands somewhere between modern Broadway (think: Rent) and contemporary classical music. Perhaps it’s the addition of the composer on the electric guitar. Vocalist Rinde Eckert (who’s also the librettist for the work) delivers his performance with more a Broadway belt than belle canto.

But that’s fine, because in this composition, it all works. Lonely Motel is a series of 11 short vignettes, sometimes connected, sometimes not. They range from the sparse and mordant musical accents of “Slide of Dog” to the amazingly beautiful falsetto of “She Walks.” My favorite movement is “Addiction” which effortlessly slides from a pointillistic arrhythmic opening to a wild renaissance dance.

This is the kind of composition that can appeal to both adventurous classical and rock music fans. If you like music with an edge, check into the “Lonely Motel.” I think you’ll enjoy your stay.

Stephen Mackey: Lonely Motel: Music from Slide 
eighth blackbird; Rinde Eckert, vocalist
Cedille Records

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