Album No. 101 - Harry Partch - The Wayward
|Various Partch instruments from|
For Partch wasn't just hard to get your hands on. He's not the most immediately accessible artist. He grew frustrated with the 'rules' of making music; the harmonic scale; the ability to reflect human speech in music made using these rules. So using his knowledge of eastern and ancient music, he devised his own scales and finally, built the instruments on which to perform these works. As much mechanical menagerie as orchestra, performances of Partch's work (not that I've been to one!) must be as notable for the jaw dropping instruments as for the music.
The music, though, repays repeat listens and, to get back to Waits, clearly provided the impetus which turned the gin soaked jazz boy into the ferocious experimenter of his latter years. Indeed the title of his pivotal album, Swordfishtrombones could be seen as a description of one of Partch's instruments.
|Harry Partch (image from http://leblogdesovena.com)|
I find this a very compelling suite of works and listen to it regularly, but still almost feel that I have to retune my mind to hear it properly.
Don't expect to hear it on morning radio or down at the disco. Do expect to be rewarded for keeping an open mind.
Here is U.S. Highball.