The idea of the Kronos Quartet being closet Tortoise fans and opting to make their next album a note-by-note cover of "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" is a mind blower, right?The idea of the Kronos Quartet being closet Tortoise fans and opting to make their next album a note-by-note cover of "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" is a mind blower, right?
But until some freak coincidence occurs where my hypothesis may come to pass, we'll have to settle for the new album by Clogs. It's surprising to hear music like this coming from members of a group like the National, who are more at home within paint-by-numbers indie rock than the nouveau chamber music of groups like Bell Orchestre and Rachel's. But members Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner have been doing their string thing since before the National was even a thought, and push the realms of this new wave of classical music further than any of their contemporaries have yet to achieve.
On tracks like "Death and the Maiden" and the gorgeous "The Song of the Cricket" they almost seem to have jumped their pals in craft altogether and go straight to the source of their inspiration, emulating the powerfully minimal arrangements of Moondog and Phillip Glass, with perhaps even a little Mark Mothersbaugh.
Elsewhere, the band employs elements of dub on "5/4" (featuring Bryce's National sibling Aaron on heavy bass) and textbook Chicago post-rock rhythms on the propulsive "Canon." They also tinker with a bevy of new instruments into the fray to complement their traditional viola/acoustic guitar/bassoon/percussion lineup, utilizing everything from ukulele to mandola to melodica to the electric guitar over the course of this 12-track set. -- Ron Hart