FAME Review: David Helbock's Random / Control - Think of Two
David Helbock's Random / Control - Think of Two

Think of Two

David Helbock's Random / Control

Traumton Records 4599

Available from Dusty Groove Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Should any doubt the soul, essence, tactics, habiliment, and mores of refinement are owned only by the aging, I present David Helbock's Random / Control Think of Two as definitive counter-polemic. This trio of overachievers is quite youthful, yet what issues from brains, lips, and hands here is almost scarily good, as larded up with interpretive brilliance and original creativity as any 50-year road vet's best. Part of the reason for that comes from an unusual combination of enamorments: Brazil's Hermeto Pascoal, a revered, eccentric, south of the border music god, and Thelonius Monk, equally held in awe here in America for his imagination-defying genius. As far as I can tell, this is the first time the two have been collided, and what's eventuated will make your brain hurt it's so good.

These guys play 30 instruments in studio and on stage, something almost no ensembles ever do (Gentle Giant and Oregon come to mind but not many others), and their fluencies are remarkable, chockablock with obliquities, humors, sidelong glances, peeks into other dimensions, and, well, things I just can't come up with words to encompass properly. Raise Four, perhaps my favorite cut amid an embarassment of riches flying all over the place, might be the best place to start, but it's a weird, hilarious, baffling, and peripatetic blend of Carl Stalling, Raymond Scott, X-Legged Sally, Trummerflora, and similar grinning maniacs so make sure you have your wig fastened down, are wearing sensible shoes, and have taken your medication because you're going to find yourself laughing, raving, dancing, and bouncing off the walls.

I get loaded up with an avalanche of review submissions at the end of every year, and PR guy Jim Eigo sends gems every month, so I shoulda known to listen to this before 2013 closed but I was slammed!, y'all, 30 CDs in arrears and I faithfully review on an as-received basis, so I didn't even hear this until New Year's Eve and played it pretty damned loud 'cause I could not believe what I was hearing. The neighbors already think I'm mental, but I'm betting, on this one, even they were wondering "What kinda party is THAT, and what the hell is that idiot up to NOW?!?!?" Doesn't matter, I had some good scotch and tasty eats, and so a buddy and I sat around drinking, listening to this CD, and playing video games. Ya hadda be there to understand how perfectly it all came together. I've already turned in my List to Editor Dave, but I'm adding this one belatedly as the addendum choice 'cause it killlllllllls.

Helbock plinks three kinds of piano (piano, inside-piano, toy piano) as his main axes, not to mention six other instruments; Johannes Bar wails on 10 different horns plus beatbox, percussion, and electronics; and Andreas Broger mans six horns along with bass drum, percussion, and electronics. Then they vocally squeal and squonk through their mouthpieces, electronic enhancements, straight into the mikes, and generally carry on as though Tex Avery and Mel Blanc reincarnated and split among three bodies. Reverence for the classics went by the boards ages ago with these eccentrics but unearthly dexterity didn't, so you can guess, given all the above, just what kind of glorious mayhem you're in for. I never rate on a 10-point scale, but if I did, very few would rate a 10. This one gets a 10.

Track List:

  • Voa, Ilza (Hermeto Pascoal)
  • 'Round Midnight (Thelonius Monk)
  • Nas Quebradas (Hermeto Pascoal)
  • Raise Four (Thelonius Monk)
  • Musica das Nuvens e do Chao (Hermeto Pascoal)
  • Trinkle Tinkle (Thelonius Monk)
  • Tupizando (Hermeto Pascoal)
  • Pannonica (Thelonius Monk)
  • Palhina do Hermeto e da Aline (Hermeto Pascoal)
  • Para Hermeto (Davis Helbock)
  • Floresta (Hermeto Pascoal)
  • Think of One (Thelonius Monk)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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