Bearthoven (Karl Larson, piano; Pat Swoboda, double bass; and Matt Evans, percussion) releases its second album, American Dream, featuring the works of composer Scott Wollschleger, including his Gas Station Canon Song, American Dream, and We See Things That Are Not There.
Karl Larson describes American Dream as “a reflection of the contemporary American state of mind.” Rather than making a direct political statement, the works on the album reflect the paradoxical nature of the “American Dream” in our current socio-economic climate. Wollschleger says, “This music expresses the strongest sense of urgency I've experienced in my entire life, channeling feelings of doom, optimism, hopelessness, and the sublime. Much like a dream, these pieces weave an interconnected musical fabric of contradictory worlds.”
The title work on the album, Wollschleger’s American Dream, is a substantial trio for piano, double bass, pitch pipes, and a wide array of percussion instruments including vibraphone, water crotales, and vibrators. The piece consists of numerous “broken songs” dispensed throughout a fragmented time-field. This formal dissonance, often heightened by disruptively recurring drone-clusters, sets the tone for the entire album: the beautiful/hopeful is pervasive but constantly shadowed by the repugnant/forlorn.
We See Things That Are Not There engages the vibraphone and piano in a constant repetitive dialogue with one another – both instruments recite the same phrase back and forth without an ultimate agreement. Gas Station Canon Song for solo piano is an unscrambled statement of one of the “broken songs” from American Dream. It was inspired by the synchronous existence of the beautiful and the grotesque encountered by Wollschleger in an I-80 gas station, a direct reference to a modern American paradox: how the majestic and the repellent always seem to coexist in a state of flux, no matter the medium.