Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2004 : 39 "Game VI" by Motion Trio


In 2000, the announcer of Krakow's prestigious Penderecki International Competition of Contemporary Music asked the members of Motion Trio, jokingly, if they were on their way to perform at a wedding party. This makes perfect sense if you know that Motion Trio is an accordion trio. Well, this accordion trio proceeded to take the "Grand Prix" in the competition and, in the process, establish the accordion as a serious instrument for 21st century composition, one for much more than weddings, ethnic food festivals, and reliving the Eastern Europe of 65 years ago. As the group;s primary composer Janusz Wojtarowicz puts it, "Accordion traditionalists have run out of ideas, and it is our goal to extract notes from the accordion which have never been heard before...." Using the bellows, keys, and buttons in triplicate, Motion Trio does just that on Live in Vienna. Surprising sounds abound—from didgeridoo-ish lower register rumbling to sweet sustained notes reminiscent of the conch. The most engaging way the trio (the other members are Pawel Baranek and Marcin Galazyn) expands the possibilities for the accordion is by layering timbres and repeating motifs—much as we hear in contemporary electronic music—in pieces that consistently highlight the "in motion" properties of the bellows-propelled instrument. Imagine buzzing along in a slight European coupe through a countryside of winding, narrow roads, past picture-perfect little doppelganger towns, and you have a sense of the energy of this music. Great stuff for a Sunday drive, one a little on the dangerous side and with some fine vistas. And in Bavaria, of course! Occasionally, the trio builds tension in predictable ways—think of a jam band "surprising" you with yet another full-step rise on a terraced ascent, or a Hollywood movie's soundtrack kicking into overdrive (mostly by just getting louder) during some climactic battle. But this is a minor gripe. These guys are oddball and ambitious and a lot of fun. If you've ever looked at the zillion buttons and keys on an accordion and wondered what peculiar sounds might be squeezed out of that squeezebox, please check out Live in Vienna. The track here is "Game VI."

Eric Burger

Listen: Motion Trio >> "Game VI"

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