My latest CD mini-review for the WRTI E-newsletter. You can read all my CD reviews here.

Relache: Press Play

Music of Mark Hagerty, Guy Klucevsek, Cynthia Folio

Meyer Media

Relache has been slipping the thin leading edge of new music into Philadelphia since 1979. They’ve done it with a jolly indifference to the clashing of styles or the rocking of boats. Even their name, which in French means “the show is closed,” exhibits their iconoclasm and humor. Downtown, uptown, no town, doesn’t matter: if it’s new–brand-new–Relache is all over it.

They’ve kept to that raison d’etre through the inevitable changes of personnel over the years. Their concerts include the annual Christmas-time Phil Kline “Unsilent Night” boombox procession around Rittenhouse Square, and they’re turning up at this Spring’s Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts with new music for an old silent film.

Every once in a while they come out with a CD, and Press Play, from 2006, is worth getting to know. It includes the buzzing music of Delaware’s Mark Hagerty, represented here with High Octane. More than just hip, though, it sings with depth, in this case an emotional response to the 9/11 tragedy. Cynthia Folio is a flutist and music theory professor at Temple University; When the Spirit Catches You is a stunningly intense look at her daughter’s epilepsy, made more powerful from its simplicity.

Accordionist Guy Klucevsek is a founding member of Relache, and although he doesn’t play on this recording, his music is the gravitational center of the disc. Wing/Prayer is another look–a personal, riveting look–at 9/11. All of his music dances, however. At once traditional and outrageous (one title, Tangocide, clues us into his irreverence), Klucevsek’s music embodies everything Relache has exemplified for more than three decades.

Relache punches with precision and abandon. Press Play excites, and is a great look at one facet of the vibrant new-music landscape of Philadelphia.