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Michiel Scheen Quartet: Dance, My Dear?

Considering the personalities of Ernst Glerum and Han Bennink, it’s a little disappointing to come across them on something as humorless as Dance, My Dear? (Data). The two of them, along with ICP Orchestra colleague and reedist Ab Baars, comprise pianist Michiel Scheen’s quartet on this run through the keyboardist’s frustrating music. Of course, creative musicians have made engrossing music out of elements commonly or casually considered extra- or anti-musical. Scheen seems very interested in this sort of thing here as his music is characterized by its constantly foiled momentum, pounding repetition and minimal harmonic movement. Scheen fails to marshal these elements into anything of greater interest, though. Scheen himself is a cantankerous, hectoring presence on his own record, whether he’s clipping at Baars heels, as on “God in Heaven (Stay!),” or obstinately pounding out tightly packed chords for measures on end as on “Non-Circle Agreeable.” Baars riffs and rumbles over Scheen’s rhythmic fragments and more or less sticks to Scheen’s script. Glerum’s and Bennink’s few features give this recording its few pale beams of light.

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