The One Ensemble created Saint Seven to be played ‘in the round’. Folk and chamber music are combined with experimental and improvised passages. The musicians sing, play cello, guitar, bass clarinet, accordion, drums and percussion creating a piece of music that is austere at times but then will explode into a full-on dramatic power.
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Don’t worry, this record has got absolutely nothing to do with the BBC telly program ‘The One Show’. Mercifully not anodyne; it’s every bit as entertaining, also it’s just as hectic-sounding as my mind has been all day today. The One Ensemble (formerly ‘The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden) are a quartet of musicians who sing and play cello, accordions, woodwind, guitar and various percussive instruments. Saint Seven was devised as a performance piece, to be played ‘in the round’ with the audience seated around the musicians on a central stage; no PAs, no amplification necessary.
The result is a kaleidoscopic meeting of traditional folk, jazz, drone and modern composition which adds up to a thing like nothing else I’ve ever heard. There’s so much going on here, often all at the same time. The skills of these guys are blowing my ten-to-five-on-a-Tuesday-afternoon mind. Not that it would take much… Intricate playing, a diverse mix of styles and traditions from a rich seam of musical heritage, it’s all here and it’s all kinds of wonderful. It’s also played continuously in one whole 40-minute piece; calling to mind Terry Riley and Steve Reich during its minimalist and starkly rhythmic passages, with a bit of Moondog thrown in (I do love a bit of repetitive clarinet).
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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