Little Worlds Have More Creepy Fun with Bartok Etudes
It seems that the trio of Little Worlds – trombonist Rick Parker, guitarist Ryan Mackstaller and drummer Tim Kuhl – had so much fun reinventing Bartok etudes on their first album that they decided to do another one. This one, simply titled Book 2, picks up with even more menace than their debut, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering Parker’s membership in film noir jazz monsters Beninghove’s Hangmen. There are some genuinely breathtaking moments here. Both the new album and the first one are streaming at Little Worlds’ Bandcamp page.
Etude No. 79 opens as creepy baroque, with what sounds like an Omnichord synth (one assumes that Mackstaller is the one playing it with a surgical menace), anxious foghorn trombone and jangly guitar methodically harmonizing a richly noir theme over Kuhl’s hypnotically tumbling vamp. It could be the Hangmen in particularly hypnotic mode. They reimagine Etude No. 113 as tricky, hypnotic mathrock with a brooding trombone lead and build to a dreampop swirl evocative of postrock bands like My Education or Mogwai, then bring it down to Kuhl’s lengthy outer-space rumble.
No. 84 is very catchy – it sounds like Wire or early XTC taking a stab at a surf groove before it falls apart. On No. 45, desolate halfspeed Pipeline guitar, reverberating rattle and misterioso drums set the stage for Parker’s methodical, angst-fueled lines, leading up to long, echoey, morosely hypnotic interlude. They segue out of it with No. 59, Parker sarcastic and muted over its a steady, sardonically waltzing pace, Mackstaller’s plaintive minimialism building to an offcenter, haphazardly slashing anthem. The final Etude, No. 69 is the quietest and most pensive, trombone resonating over a terse guitar vamp accented by creepy rattle and then a fluttering, suspenseful crescendo from the drums.
Bartok wrote some of the creepiest music ever: these guys totally get it. So what is this? Classical music? Not exactly. Jazz? You could call it that. Postrock? Same deal. Soundtrack music? Very possibly. Whatever you want to call it, it’s great fun. Fire up Bandcamp and give it a spin if you’re in a dark mood.
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