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Call Me Us

Call Me Us

by Tristan Honsinger and Massimo Simonini
i dischi di angelica, via Gandusio 10 40128 Bologna, Italy, 2009
CD, 7703, $15.95
Distributor’s website: http://www.rerusa.com/.

Reviewed by Jonathan Zilberg

Warning. This CD is not for easy listening. In fact, Call Me Us will be of no interest to you whatsoever unless you are specifically interested in new music or being subjected to it as a part of your musical training. It begins with pleasant classical ornamentation interspersed with banter in Italian and English. Massimo Simonini and Tristan Honsinger, playing the cello and …. and bits and pieces from CD’s and records. Here is an example of the type of the opening banter that sets the tone for the whole performance.  “Do you like classical noise?” The reply is “I like classical noise sometimes as well as classics … cla, a, aaaaaa . . .”Apparently, if he “had no choice,” Tristan Honsinger “would burn his head and listen with his feet” . . . if he “had a choice.” In short, the first part CD is in part both sonorous and dissonant and often amusing. As regards the reference to classical music, it is important to keep in mind perhaps that we are not supposed to “like” it in the “classical” sense of appreciation. [1] Instead, we are supposed to appreciate it for its creativity and as an art happening. No doubt, as a film, this would be much more interesting to watch than to listen to.

Massimo Simonini and Tristan Honsinger are established iconic figures in new European music. [2] But it is Honsinger’s interest in the child that this CD best speaks to. [3] There Erik van de Berg, a Dutch journalist describes the composer in this way. "Honsinger is someone who hasn't lost his childhood fantasy entirely. His compositions are like a child's drawing, or even more like a story from Winnie The Pooh: awkward and touchingly simple, yet full of deeper meanings for those who want to see them." Adding to this insight in that same WIKI, Honsinger himself provides the following lengthy explanation about his work. As he relates:

“Simple things fascinate me, simple stories and simple characters. It's not that I write for children in particular, but I think they would understand it very well. I usually get the best reactions from an audience with a good mix of children and adults. I don't like to play for one particular age group. It is almost a necessity for me to compose in the form of stories and texts. It gives me ideas and it does help the musicians in their improvisation if they can think: this story is about a little man who takes a walk and experiences this, that and the other. It also helps the audience, it gives them something to hold on to.”

Judging from the laughter and the clapping, from the obvious pleasure one can hear coming from the audience during the performances on Call Me US it must have been a highly entertaining musical event. To conclude by plundering new music like a quote from modisti.com, it is sparing, seemingly intelligent, definitely skillful, very much spontaneous, certainly ambiguous as to its degree of control versus improvisation. It is also no doubt eccentric, confident and extremely musical. As a masterpiece of plunder and manipulation, it is most certainly a masterfully humorous one-off. [4]


[1] For examples which demonstrate that new music does not all conform to the outsider’s stereotype that it is nonsensical noise not worth listening to one might mention the aesthetically accessible “minimalist”  new music by Nico Mulhy (see http://nicomuhly.com/), Arvo Part, Georgy Ligeti and Gesualdo in the 17th century which still sounds wholly contemporary. This discussion is outside of the discussion that all innovative classical music was new music in its time, see Zilberg 2009, leonardo.info/reviews/feb2009/zilberg_philosophy.html. Naturally it goes without saying that new music people who prefer the practiced dissonance of Call Me Us would find such music too boring to take seriously.

[2] For a list and discussion of Massimo Simoni’s performance history, see http://highzero.org/2007_site/performers/index.html.

[3] See http://en.wikipedi.a.org/wiki/Tristan_Honsinger.

[4] The advertisement for the CD reads: “Cellist Honsinger and pre-existing media manipulist Simonini with a piece that falls between radio art, music theatre and… and what? A highly unusual performance in 10 parts that deploys its materials sparingly and intelligently and, through a combination of skill, spontaneity and ambiguity, arrives at something seemingly too controlled and precise to be improvised, but too complex and willful to have been composed. In a world of its own; this is confident, eccentric, and highly musical. Simonini’s choice, use and development of both plundered sources and real time manipulation is masterful. A one-off.” See http://modisti.com/releases/?p=5240.

Last Updated 7 July, 2010

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