Worrytrain: Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom
Own Records

Hopefully the overwrought and existential character of song titles like “Prelude for Piano and Malaria” and “Achtung, God” won't scare off too many listeners, because Joshua Neil Geissler's latest Worrytrain collection, a provocative fifteen-piece collection that sits perfectly well alongside recordings by Rachel's, Lech Jankowski, and Max Richter, certainly deserves to be heard. Like those artists, Geissler couples classical composition-related elements with daring electronic treatments, and doesn't hesitate to alternate a restrained melancholy setting with an ear-splitting dose of dissonance (thankfully, the latter occurs infrequently).

In truth, the album's material generally splits into three areas: solo piano pieces, string settings, and agitated experiments. The first is represented by four pieces, of which “Prelude for Piano and Malaria,” a painterly rumination refracted through a prism of echo and decay, and “The Trenches Choir,” a somber etude joined by creaking strings, are representative. The second group features the lovely, Rachel's-like “For Auschwitz,” which is exactly the kind of somber piano- and string-drenched setting one would expect it to be, the meditation “Achtung, God,” and a firestorm of impassioned string clusters titled “The Moth Screamed Harvest.” The final, less conventionally musical set includes “Exorcism for Cello and Malaria,” a ritualesque stream of howls and moans that seems like a perfect soundtrack for an exorcism, and, the album's most daunting piece, “Thundertrance Interlude,” whose writhing blasts would do Merzbow proud. In keeping with the more than 1500 species and sub-species of silkmoths distributed around the world, “Saturniidae” contains multiple stylistic worlds in one song, including a dramatic violin and piano waltz at the beginning that's obliterated by a squealing noisefest that detonates thereafter. Despite the harrowing nature of “Thundertrance Interlude,” quieter yet still emotionally intense moments of reflection dominate the album, making Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom often feel like a welcome shelter from the cacophonous storm of the modern world.

November 2007