Is "KRIN" easy listening avant garde? Well, maybe. Is "KRIN" a world music party album with western ties? It could be. Is it a simple album to understand? Probably not. Is it worth the effort to try? Absolutely.
"KRIN" has rich and varied melodies along with a plethora of unusual sounds. It features incredibly good musicians like Vinny Golia and Nels Cline. Plus Brad plays some great marimba, krin and berimbau.
Brad Dutz says, as a percussionist you are expected to accumulate a large number of instruments, marimbas, vibraphones, and timpani. But Brad has gone far beyond that. Reading his liner notes I recognized about one in three instruments. On "KRIN" he uses shakers, paiste gongs, Chinese gongs, bundt pan (okay I recognized that one), berimbau, film canister, bass frame drum and Chinese frame drum. That’s just on the first song.
The instruments are not just different names for very similar instruments; they are substantially different melodic percussion instruments, varying in construction and sound and in how they are played. Brad uses these differences to stunning effect in combination with other musicians on this CD.
Brad plays, frame drums, stringed instruments, whistles, a processed trumpet, the marimba and xylophone plus a large number of other instruments. Brad's composition and performance on the xylophone and marimba are superb.
Krin is the name of this CD, which is either Brad’s third or forth as a leader. It is also a type of a West African log drum which is sometimes called a kolokolo or a slit drum. The drum is made typically from redwood, mango wood or Khari. The krin looks like a thick one piece rolling pin that has been semi hollowed with two or three slits of different sizes. It is played with sticks. The drum comes in various sizes and I suppose that the larger the log the deeper the voice. The sound of wood on wood is very satisfying, it almost sounds like percolation of vicious liquid with a residual wood tap on the end. On Krin which is the fifth track on the CD, the krin is played fast and gives off a sound reminiscent of flowing liquid.
Another instrument which Brad uses very nicely is the berimbau. The berimbau is composed of a bow-like body with a single string. Attached to the string and body is a gourd which acts as the sound box. The performer strikes the string with a stick. This produces a deep resonance that is controlled by the movement of the gourd against the musician's body. A coin or stone pressed against the string provide further control and a small shaker held by the hand that strikes the string completes the instrument. The berimbau comes from Brazil where it is used to accompany that nations martial art, capoeira.
On two songs, track 7 "Missouri," Brad performs accompanied only acoustic guitar and voice, and track 9 "Indiana" Brad plays with minimal vocal accompaniment on the berimbau. Both pieces are virtual solos and showcase the berinbau's very captivating organic sound.
While there are nine performers on Krin there are never more then three of them playing on any one piece and several of the pieces are solo or with very minimal accompaniment. Brad’s accompanists all seem to understand him and the music very well and the result is seamless musical conversation.
There is one musician on the album who I had never heard of before, although as I have since learned Kaoru is very active on the Los Angeles music scene. Kaoru came to the United States from Japan and as a singer uses her voice in ways that are neither common nor ordinary. Her duets with Brad on Missouri and Indiana are both very interesting and I find listenable.
I have only begun to scratch the surface in the area of instrumentation and haven’t even talked about composition. However, you may want to investigate both of these after you have listened to Krin, which I heartily recommend.