Okay, let’s start RexHammock.com Tumblr 2.0 with something rare: a music review.
Punch, an album released today by Chris Thile’s new group, Punch Brothers, MySpace.com/punchbrothers) is not for sissies. Thile and a collaborating cast of young instrumental virtuosos are working without a safety net.
This is a genre-ignoring work. In fact, I’ll be curious what “genre” tag it receives on iTunes. Even “Americana” or “roots-inspired” don’t capture what’s taking place here. And it’s not “new” anything. Classical, perhaps? Guess we’ll have to wait and see what category it wins a Grammy in next year.
The most “accessible” (as in, a recognizable genre) piece on the recording, Punch Bowl, will even be off-putting for anyone hoping for anything remotely Nickel Creekish from the new group.
This is an ambitious recording. Thile and his fellow all-star bluegrass and roots players are standing on the shoulders of O’Connor, Fleck, Meyer — but are reaching for a higher altitude. Think Thelonius Monk upending jazz with dissonant harmonies. Or, to push the jazz analogy a bit more, this is Thile’s “Kind of Blue(grass)” attempt to build on — but challenge — everything that’s come before.
If you’re prepared for an adventure, you’ll be astonished by its scope. The majority of the recording is an existential composition by Thile in four movements titled, The Blind Leaving the Blind. I hope he purged whatever demons he was attempting to with it.
But then again, such is the source of great art.
Sidenote: The Punch Boys will be performing on Jay Leno Friday.