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Animation: Transparent Heart

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Animation is Bob Belden’s project. He is a composer-arranger-producer-saxophonist who thinks big. He has made ambitious concept albums, like Black Dahlia and New Sketches of Spain, with huge ensembles full of famous musicians. But Transparent Heart uses a quintet comprising 20-something players from Belden’s alma mater, the University of North Texas. It is his most personal, edgiest recording to date. It may also be his most important.

Belden’s liner notes state his intention: to portray “the sound of Manhattan … an observation of history through music and sound textures.” Such subject matter necessarily leads to extremity and diversity. The title track is as relentless as the city’s raw nocturnal energy. “Cry in the Wind” is as pensive as the city’s nocturnal loneliness. “Seven Towers” is the chaos and shattering agony of 9/11, violent with splashed colors. Because of digital effects and sampling, Transparent Heart never feels like a quintet record. Five instruments are blown up into seething electronic orchestras.

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