Maybe t has to do with the pollen count or fertilizerrun-offinourwatersupply.butaselect harvestof wonderfully wacked music has prospered in the Midwest. Local-yokel Frank Pahl and his Only a Mother cohorts are some of the best current examples of our area's propensity for peculiarity. On his latest semi-solo CD The Romantic Side ofSchizophrenia, Frank continúes his fictive tradition of music for homemade, augmented, and outmoded instruments. Picking up his "Romantic Side" compositions from his previous CD Cowboy Disciple (with titles like "Romantic Side of Beef"), Frank Pahl has put togethera less homemade and more diversified CD in 777e Romantic Side of Schizophrenia. Most of the songs are short enough todazzle, perplex, and entertain without becoming tired or self-consciously quirky. The characteristic ingrediënt in most songs, such as the title track, is an off-kilter edginess reminiscent of a slightly deranged circus band tromping through a Felini flick. That is not to say that there is no method to his madness. Once you acclimate your ears to Frank's playful logic, the music makes some sort of schizophrenic sense. While the approach may seem a bit zany, each piece is free of pretensión due to a self-parodying humility that is subtly interwoven into the arrangement. While most musicians stick to one instrument, not Frank. As a one-man-band of befuddling proportions, Frank strums, blows, and keys an amazingly wide array of instruments. The haunting tone of tunes like "Walnut Street Bridge Dance" sterns from Frank's attraction to "folk," non-Western, and forgotten instruments, rousing their musical spirits out of catatonia. On Schizop)rena, Frank adds toy marimba, marxolin, prepared mandolin, and yueh kin to his Cowboy Disciple repertoire of mandolin, guitar, harmonium, euphonium, balalaika, banjo... you get the idea. But, scanning the Instrument listing in the liner notes to Schizophrenia doesn't provide an accurate tally of the music, since Frank reinvents the traditions of even the conventional instruments. Perhaps what most distinguishes Schizophrenia from Frank's previous output is the accompaniment Of course his Only a Mother comrades pop up frequently, but Frank's arrangements are also deranged by Shaking Ray Levis on "Heil" (recorded at the Performance Network). The now-defunct student collaboration, the Blue Sun Quintet, accompany Frank on a slow dirge ("Blue") and vivify their mutated string creations on "Creatures." Amy Denio plays sax with a trombone mouthpiece in her duo with Frank, and Eugene Chadboume rumbas up some pseudo-Cuban music with Only a Mother on "Escabeche." Just to make things more delightfully confusing, the CD doses with a piece forfog horns written for a sound symposium in Newfoundland. Clearly Frank Pahl's music is both way behind and f ar ahead the times. This is music of traditions long forgotten and not yet imagined.
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