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  • Memory Is An Elephant
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Memory Is An Elephant

8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 23, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Memory Is an Elephant lilts, skitters, and wails like the soundtrack to a flickering-yellow-subtitled Italian film as it unfolds the tale of a marching chamber orchestra of East European Gypsies improving klezmer-inflected bluegrass at the wake of Astor Piazzolla. Such gloriously peculiar diversity makes Tin Hat Trio's debut of titillating tiptoe tango remarkably suitable for a gallery opening peopled with handsomely dressed avant-garde art scenesters clinking glasses or for accompaniment to a long, lonesome Sunday afternoon drive heading for parts unknown. The classically trained group creates a deftly engaging soundscape of movement, textures, and shading, and its combined bio of connections (including Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Philip Glass, Tom Waits, and Eugene Chadbourne) reads like a who's who of contemporary musical giants. Guitarist and primary songsmith Mark Orton lays down the bones of this intricately composed collection while Karla Kihlstedt's violin and Rob Burger's accordion nestle into gorgeously complex melodic tension countered with the extraordinary daring thrill of aural kite-tricks flying high and wide across the open sky. --Paige La Grone

Review

Before assembling in San Francisco, the members of Tin Hat Trio wandered through such disparate landscapes as New York's Knitting Factory, Baltimore's Peabody, and Portland's rock scene. So it's no wonder the band's recording debut evokes both movement and place. While the trio stays Stateside, the pastiche reaches around the globe to embrace an array of old-, third-, and new-world folk traditions. Jazz-influenced frameworks tie them together agreeably. "Fire of Ada," which foregrounds Rob Burger's accordion against Mark Orton's syncopated guitar and Carla Kihlstedt's intermittent violin, could be the soundtrack for an indie Mafia flick, by turns weepy and awry. Past the muted meltdown of "Foreign Legion," off-kilter, semi-narrative phrasings emerge under the upbeat "Big Top." The album is imminently frightening all along, and "Orbly Resting" plays to that strength, tip-toeing into the discordant ambush that is "UC Irvine/UC Davis." Pump organ, toy piano, banjo, mandolin, and viola weigh in until the comedic chase scene of "Lambrackroar" lurches in for the finale. No cut-and-paste job, this interplay comes off organically, as pop structures periodically surface with sparkling nuggets of melody. Tin Hat Trio performs melting-pot alchemy to yield postmodern American gold.

--- JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz


1. Fire Of Ada
2. Foreign Legion
3. Big Top
4. Orbly Resting
5. Uc Irvine/Uc Davis
6. Waltz Of The Skyscraper
7. The Would-be Czarina
8. The Quick Marble Tromble
9. Somniloquy
10. Lambrackroar
11. Thinuette

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 23, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Angel Records
  • ASIN: B00000HZQ6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,982 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MOVIE MAVEN on April 22, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After hearing a feature on Tin Hat Trio on N.P.R. and then reading the on-line reviews of their CD "Memory Is An Elephant," I bought the album and cannot remember ever hearing anything quite like it.
I guess it's the combination of instruments: accordian, pump organ, toy piano, several strings, mandolin, etc. that give their music such an unusual feel. I was at once reminded of klezmer, of Stephane Grappelli & Django Reinhardt, of Italian film scores, of Eastern European contemporary chamber music...and yet this music is totally individual: mysterious and playful, charming and engrossing.
I recommend it to anyone who wants a totally accessible musical adventure---even with that vocal during the final moments which, had it gone on any longer, would have spoiled my good time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By alfred klek on July 1, 2000
Format: Audio CD
the tin hat trio is an extremely talented group. the compositions that are very odd from a conventional standpoint beautifully complement the instrumentation. carla kihlstedt's playing style on the violin is wild at times but retains the clean precision that defines a good musician. mark orton, the guitarist, impresses me a great deal, and his performance on this album is as good as it is unconventional. what i often find when i listen to music produced by good musicians is that i admire thier techniques, but do not like their styles. this album however, consists of well written, complex, and musical pieces performed by very competent and obviously inspired musicians. i recommmend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Memory Is an Elephant is the most uplifting CD I have ever listened to. It is jazz at its most musical, evocative and uplifting. Its melodies are transporting, its rhythmns delightfully complex, and the dynamic range reveals a most mature musiciality. Accordion, guitar and violin--the latter particularly rich and subtle. "Foreign Legion" evokes desert mirages; "Waltz of the Skyscraper" makes me want to draw it in animation; "The Would-Be Czarina" makes my heart yearn for a mythical lost love; "Orbly Resting" and "Somniloquy" take chamber jazz into a new dimension. I can't stop listening to it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 1999
Format: Audio CD
The recent Billboard spotlights "memory is an elephant" for good reason. This disc really does deliver "Old World depth with New World brio." It is alive, spontaneous, vibrant and sophisticated. The more I listen, the more it grows on me. Its interesting sounds and complex rhythms mix with haunting tunes to catch my attention and compel me to listen again. The music has an energy and immediacy that make me feel alive. I hope we hear more from tin hat trio.
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