Popular Science

by: Henry Kaiser

The late Sergei Kuriokhin was known as the wild man of Russian avant-garde jazz based largely on his propensity for stylistically leaping from Tchaikovsky to Cecil Taylor in a heartbeat. Here he teams with guitarist Henry Kaiser for a series of playful, even goofy duos where the Synclavier, then -- enjoying a spurt of popularity -- is front and foreground. Kuriokhin was a virtuoso player and is shown to good advantage on several pieces here, notably "The Concept of Concept," where his underlying romanticism is clearly in evidence. He gamely follows Kaiser's lead on rockish numbers like "Rattlesnake Round-Up," dreamy soundscapes ("Frozen Reflection"), or the out and out weirdness of the aptly titled "Barking Dogs vs. Minimalists." There's a bit too much dabbling and meandering and too little of a cohesive concept to the album, however, and Kaiser's own compositions fail to give Kuriokhin the freedom to really stretch. Additionally, the Synclavier, however hip it was at the time, has a cloying quality which (possibly appropriate to the album's title) creates the air of a science project. Still, any chance to hear Kuriokhin shouldn't be passed up, and the record does contain a handful of worthwhile pieces. ~ Brian Olewnick

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