PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Mark Springer: The Watching Bird / The Rip Rig and Panic Piano Solos

In Mark Springer's work, there is a presence of emotional distortion that pushes forward a striking narrative of signatures and chords.


Mark Springer

The Watching Bird

Label: Exit
Release Date: 2015-07-31
Amazon
iTunes

Mark Springer

The Rip Rig and Panic Piano Solos

Label: Exit
Release Date: 2015-07-31
Amazon
iTunes

This year sees two new releases by Mark Springer, a musician and composer of dedicated craftsmanship who has honed his skills in everything from off-the-wall punk to difficult works of avant-garde music. Springer finds an intermediate point between accessibility and invention, often practicing a restraint that allows him mobility and a platform for his impressive skills. The Watching Bird, one of the two new releases, reveals Springer’s most capricious and passionate tendencies in song. A double-disc comprised of piano quintets and string quartets, the album is a collection of work that should place a high watermark above the efforts of others working a similar stratum of musical vision.

The first disc opens with the Potentino Piano Quintet. Each movement (four in all) is marked by notes that are, in turns, impellent and dry, forcing into shape a structure of galvanic curves which soon become restless with colour. Springer’s work is minimal and precise but he employs a sense of upheaval, levelling emotional inclines in the powerful, cinematic sweep of his playing. The four movements glide and dip effortlessly along, the melodic flows running deep into the soul-filled concaves of this organized sound. At times, these arrangements are impressed upon with passions almost violent and Springer manoeuvres the flows of sound adroitly, keeping measure with the speed of dispensed emotions.

“Music For Five Pianos”, a set of seven pieces recorded live at the St. George church in Bristol, continues the winding stretch of hushed bedlam. There is an even greater presence of emotional distortion that pushes forward a striking narrative of signatures and chords.

The second disc, entitled The Watching Bird, features three separate sets of suites for the string quartet, and it is here especially that Springer demonstrates his ability to liquefy soul into sound. Achieving a Szymanowski-intensity, the artist explores a dynamic which has him upholding the traditions of many composers of the late Romantic German School while still exercising the techniques that were practiced by Schoenberg. Each set achieves a handsome stridency of certitude and purpose and Springer accomplishes an ever-expanding sense of mystery, summoning then dissolving tension with fluctuating pressures. The final set (of which the album is named after) examines a minimal, probing search that has the composer working a continuum of distance and space. The first set of the disc, however, is not to be missed; entitled “Camargue”, it propels all the emotional dangers within the fixed-time of orchestrated sound. It’s a beautiful, supple mess that finds co-ordinance under the charmed hands of a consummate player.

Springer’s other release, The Rip Rig and Panic Piano Solos, comprises his piano solos from his days with the avant-punk band. Including unreleased material and outtakes, the Piano Solos offer a curious consumption of all Springer’s influences, from his time as a music student to his days of wild abandon in London’s punk scene of the ‘80’s. There is discipline here, but the forms are free and Springer travels boldly across the terrains, loosened from his bonds of classical doctrines.

Both releases are lavishly filled out with extensive liner booklets that detail Springer’s progression in his work. Featuring a set of his paintings, which take on qualities both impressionistic and mercurial, the booklets also implicitly reveal the visual nature of his music. With sound, texture and composition, there is an articulation of discovery and image here, like a certain colour not yet conceived of. In every instant of every note played, Springer manages a movement both transfixing and elusive all at once.

9

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.