Ferrella & Schaefer - Musical catechism - 2000


Although maybe his name doesn't tell you anything, Thomas Ferrella is one of the most illustrious composers inside the world of avant garde and experimentation. Next to Thomas, Kevin Schaefer forms the nucleus of the band Earthboys, that have enjoyed a great critical acclaim inside scenes as disparate as jazz, ambient, electro-acoustic music and avant-garde. In "Musical Catechism", Thomas and Kevin sign with their own names a very risky project based on a book of Robert Schumann of the same title.


The initial surprise is the fact that this double album doesn't have any cover (the drawing that the review illustrates is the promotional postcard), it is only presented in the format of a double CD, one of red color (From 3.11.99-10.9.99) and another in green (From 12.2.99-2.17.00). All the information related to the recording can be found in the back cover. Next to Thomas (tambura, field recordings, drums, percussion, voice) and Kevin (synthesizer, piano, flute, drums, percussion, voice) are William Gilmore (guitars, clarinet, percussion, voice), Alan Fark (synthesized guitar), Ed Ahrens (sax), Bob Pettibone (drums, percussion), Jonathan Konrad (Ed´s guitar?), Michael Winter (synthesizer), Craig Walkner (drums, percussion), Vincent Olmsted (voice), and Maia Reinhart-Ferrella (voice). As curiosity, is there a CD-Rom track so you can enjoy the music while you see kaleidoscopic images done by André Ferrella (very good but I prefer to listen this work lying in the dark).

In the same way we are advised that the music is totally improvised, without overdubbing, manipulation or post-production... what does this mean? The music of "Musical Catechism" is not for all audiences. Here there is no progressive as a "musical label", there is progressive as an attitude. One cannot speak of songs or pieces for separate as this double CD is a compact work made to listen without interruption. Once you press the play button a space-time hole opens up in the room that transports the listener into strange worlds in which minimalism, vanguard, experimentation and soundscapes play together while you slight shades of neo-jazz, contemporary classic music, and ethnic percussion surround the listener. Of course, we are not speaking of “new age", we are speaking of a very organic work of electro-acoustic music that possesses a strange ingredient that makes the listener not to want to awake of this trip.


For the lovers of comparisons, we could place this work in a no man’s land shared by Luis de Pablo, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Djam Karet of "Suspension & Displacement", and Steve Reich, but I think that "Musical Catechism" is something that you should experience to reach your own conclusion. Certainly, if you have interest in moving up a step in your musical taste and rush to the ocean of electronic music, this double CD is very much recommended. Man does not only live from progressive rock and you will discover in this way other music that, without being so accessible, will cause all kind of wonderful reactions in your subconscious. "Musical Catechism" is worthwhile to listen with the lights out, relaxed, and with the luggage ready for a long trip into worlds still unexplored. In any case, have the "Rocket to Russia" of the Ramones ready for when you return of this trip since it can be addictive.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - December 2000 -   - Independent Release