Lonely Motel is the world premiere recording of songs from the startlingly innovative music and theater work Slide, written for new-music sextet eighth blackbird, an ensemble of wind, string, piano, and percussion virtuosos. The group, with composer-electric guitarist Steven Mackey and singer, actor, and librettist Rinde Eckert, premiered the concert-length work at the 2009 Ojai Music Festival in Southern California, a mecca for cutting-edge music enthusiasts. The same forces perform on the new CD, which takes its title from the final song in the cycle.
Eckert plays the central character, Renard, a fictional research psychologist whose fiancee has abandoned him. The heartbroken Renard reminisces about an experiment he conducted using projections of photographic slides to explore the fallibility of human perception.
Robert Carl, Fanfare Magazine
“this work … shows an extremely talented composer in high form … Eighth blackbird quite simply rocks; it’s one of the most adventurous groups around in its curatorial taste and presentation. Mackey plays electric guitar suavely and sounds exceptionally fluent, clean, precise, economical, never showing off, but impressive. (He also does a narrator-cameo relating the synopsis of a Twilight Zone episode that’s hilariously chilling.) And Eckert of course continues to amaze. His voice seems only to get better; it’s operatic in scope and strength, yet entirely naturalistic, and he has a killer falsetto. He’s also the author of this libretto, which is simultaneously poignant, allusive, and focused, and a major factor in the work’s success.”
Daniel Coombs, Audiophile Audition
“Eckert brings a wonderful tone to his character . . . One cannot help but be very impressed by the performance of the amazing contemporary music ensemble, eighth blackbird, as well. . . . As mentioned, the more of Steve Mackey’s music I hear, the more I appreciate it. For those who have never heard his work before, I think that Lonely Hotel is a very rewarding place to start. Check in and stay awhile.”
Michael Quinn, The Classical Review
“Following performances elsewhere in the United States, the work [Slide] was re-fashioned into a concert version and taken into the recording studio in March last year by the ensemble’s enterprising hometown label, Cedille Records. Lonely Motel: Music from Slide is the pulsing, powerful, prickly, provocative and often surprisingly poignant result.”