If “DIY shitty classical pieces” is all you’re going to get out of this, Keith, then you’re not even paying attention to yourself. I kid, sort of, but Keith Freund, writer of his own release’s press kit, simplifies it waaay too much. And while the self-deprecation may serve the music – it is indeed DIY classical, minus, with great prejudice, the descriptor “shitty,” and therefore sort of inward-focused – any sort of external criticism that the music is somehow not up to snuff would be foolish at best, deadly at worst. OK, probably foolish at worst, but I’m pretty into this record – I’m apt to get carried away.
Keith’s partner in this endeavor is Linda Lejsovka, and together they combine piano, strings, and electronic detritus together to form what is a stupidly remarkable work, more cohesive than it should be since it combines two previous releases into one, Mold On Canvas and Fatal Strategies. Music for Small Ensemble & Computer, then, is pretty much what you’re going to get – a small ensemble (two people) and a computer (the electronic embellishments). Like Max Richter, perhaps, Lejsovka & Freund inhabit the miniscule moments that freeze within one’s contemplation for eternity, moments that are often returned to with a misty eye. That’s what we call “nostalgia,” folks. Lejsovka & Freund are good at nostalgia. They make it work for everybody, and there’s nary a “cloying” to be found in any of my thoughts about the record.
The places and themes, the tiny, tiny snapshots of life, are reflected in titles such as “Nothing, Just Looking at the Moon,” “From Royal Ave,” “Mold on Canvas,” “Fog in the Ravine,” and the totally Zammuto/de Jong song title in spirit (though not as a song in practice) “Ah Shit, My Heart Is Full.” Lejsovka’s piano is plaintive, delicate, while Freund’s electronics fill in the spaces around the notes with color, imbuing Music for Small Ensemble & Computer with depth and texture. The combination is outstanding, a reconfiguration of the idea of modern classical that pulses with life and exoticism, yet remains firmly accessible to all who encounter it. Says Freund, “To me, it’s the sound of the two of us struggling to find peace and stability for ourselves, family, and small community in an often chaotic and hostile world.”
If that’s what you’re going for, Keith, you knocked it out of the park. Not shitty in the slightest.
Tunes from Mold on Canvas:
Tunes from Fatal Strategies: