Ernest Hilbert - 'Elegies and Laments' (stream)

by Jennifer Makowsky

26 June 2013

Philadelphia-based poet href="">Ernest Hilbert has teamed up with musicians, Marc Hildenberger and Dave Young, to create an album that defies genre.

Elegies and Laments is part spoken word, part jazz/rock/indie musical composition, and part heartrending string orchestra (scored by composer, Christopher LaRossa). Hilbert narrates from his 2009 book Sixty Sonnets, transforming the poems into an audio experience that is both in-your-face and ethereal.
The tracks are bookended by short blends of radio static, guest vocals, and snippets of classic poets including Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman. The extracts’ chaotic effect underlines the multi-dimensional nature of the album. Jazz, blues, rock, indie, or classical compositions (or a combination of any or all) accompany Hilbert’s stories of violent cityscapes, suburban apathy, the problems of modern life, and the fleeting and illusive nature of time. The crowning piece of the album is the last track, “Calavera for a Friend“. Backed by haunting strings, the track captures the inevitability of death with heartbreaking candor. Elegies and Laments is an imaginative hybrid that anyone who appreciates poetry and/or music should put their ears to.

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