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Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 710, December 28, 2009

The name of Tim Brady regularly appears in the columns of Vital Weekly. This time with his multimedia project My 20th Century, subtitled as a ‘music/video/theatre narrative in 4 works’. CD and DVD contain the same compositions in the identical performance. The dvd has as an extra the beautiful videos from artists Martin Messier and Oana Suteu that were shown during performance. To exclude any misunderstanding, the dvd contains no pictures of the performance. Usually I feel very ambiguous about multimedia-projects. Personally I don’t need pictures if the music satisfies me, nor the other way around. But with each dvd-release like this one, I try to put my prejudices aside. And in this case I have to reconsider my views on this point. Music and the videos are very worthwhile, and I felt no urge to put one of them down. On the other hand, whether the combination of these two media produce something that is bigger then their sum, is still a question for me. BradyBrady started this project in 2003 when the first work was composed. The others followed in 2005. The works are performed by his own ensemble Bradyworks and Quator Molinari. Strumming (for John Lennon) is the most accessible of all four works. It is written for multiple guitars and built from limited musical material. Simple riffs and repeated and alternately textured. Because repetition is a key element is this composition it has a hypnotizing effect. This is underlined by the video that is constructed from pictures of a hand of a person strumming a guitar. Traces is a work for guitar, piano, percussion, saxophone and sampler and brings tribute to another guitarist, namely jazz musician Charlie Christian. Brady deconstructed a guitar solo by Christian hat he played in concert with Bennie Goodman in 1941. By doing this BradyBrady abstracted from jazz and choose a pulsating, tight and severe sounding new music jacket as we know from earlier works by BradyBrady. Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg (Casino Adagio) is written for string quartet plus electronics. The electronic environment is ever changing and full of detail. For this work BradyBrady took inspiration from a painting by Jean-Paul Riopelle, “a work obsessed with ghostly images of birds and nature”. The CD closes with Double Quartet, divided in three sections this ambitious work reflects on the life of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. It features a “virtual string quartet” plus piano, saxophone, percussion and electric guitar. How the collaboration between BradyBrady and video artists Martin Messier and Oana Suteu came about I don’t know. From the pictures I suppose that they were chosen and created in function of the compositions by Brady. Oana Suteu did the video for Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg. Martin Messier made the other three ones. Martin Messier is a composer and performer as well, and the fascination for the relation between sound and images, unites his talents. Oana Suteu is from Romania, where she studied at the Film and Theatre Academy in Bucharest.