Review Summary: Eli Keszler's latest work focuses on crafting a world of movement that only fully reveals itself on repeat listens.
The best thing you can know going into percussionist Eli Keszler’s Stadium
is that it works like a Kurosawa film. Movement is a constant, so even when the story stands still, the rain pours, torches burn, and the wind howls before the dust eventually settles. However brief their visit, every touch of muted trumpet, tiptoeing bass, and flourishing harp is the coming and going of realized characters, and each ricocheting, poly-rhythmic drum and clanging cymbal beneath the pitter-patter of wood blocks is the ambient nature these characters inhabit.
And like your twelfth Seven Samurai
(1954) or Rashomon
(1950) viewing, repeat listens are for letting your ears wander to the other corners of Stadium’s
near palpable soundscape and being rewarded for the focused attention. Every time I spin this, I’m amazed by the sheer space occupied, just as much as I am with the space unoccupied, and can only regard this album as a masterclass in maximizing the attention and force of only a few instruments through mixing.
So, forget avant-jazz and forget experimental. If this album can be satisfactorily characterized by any of the near-useless genre terms that have both graced and cursed music journalism, it’s that this is world music: Holistic, evolving, inhabiting, living
. Painted on a canvas overlooking Manhattan, Keszler gives this album’s instruments the eclectic color and energy to match the city that never sleeps. At times, in fact, it feels like such controlled chaos of beats amidst a dizzying array of sounds could only have been crafted by an artist transcribing the sounds directly outside his window. Otherwise, how else could this thing sound so damn real"