Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rattletrap Ruckus - Revitalizing Music Entertainment

Edison Home Phonograph (c.1908)
Nowadays the digital era has reached a point where the technical possibilities of reproduction of sound easily eliminate disturbing noise and for instance present our ears for a 'clean' copy of a recorded piece of music even from long ago. Although the digital possibilities of restoring sound from old cylinders and shellac discs in a nearly 'clean' copy are at hand today, the result often leaves the impression that something is missing. What is this 'something'? In my personal perception it's often an impression of the ambiance of the original recording that is missing. What has been left out by digital restoration is the mechanical noise generated by a wobbly maschine and the disturbing clicks and pops from a needle in the groove, but at the same time the processing often also has 'killed' the original ambiance of the recording and leaves the audible output in anonymous obscurity like a canned relic of the past. It takes a devoted producer with knowledge of the recorded music and the circumstances of the original recording to generate a reliable reproduction of music, especially from the early ages of recorded sound.

Band logo of Rattletrap Ruckus
The same demand rests on  musicians of today who intend to revive music that was recorded long ago and originally reproduced on wax cylinders or shellac discs. To generate an aesthetic credible impression such musicians must know their sources and be able to recreate the music in a way that makes a commotion in a contemporary context of slick music production and brainless consumption. Some time ago I found an example of a music ensemble that in fact has succeeded in revitalizing the sound of music entertainment from an era long ago without losing the impact of authenticity. The name of the ensemble is Rattletrap Ruckus, and their output preserved in digital bits and bytes convincingly leaves the  impression of some music worth lending your ears performed by devoted and talented musicians who know and respect their sources and their own capacity. The ambiance of the recordings luckily is well preserved and further documented in the video that introduces the ensemble and the title music of their debut CD - Redlight Rag 

Basicly Rattletrap Ruckus is a four-piece instrumental band that was established in 2009, initial members are Lucas Hicks (accordion), Casey Connor (tenor banjo), Jenny Rose (upright bass) and Clea Taylor (cello). The members also play other instruments on the CD and in live performance, a speciality is Jenny Rose's use of a laundrophone (- also known as a washtub bass).

Rattletrap Ruckus (photo by Shannon Conyers)

The debut album of Rattletrap Ruckus was recorded and released in 2013 and comprises a repertoire of mixed music genres. The band presents its repertoire this way: "We play fiddle tunes, ragtime, tango, paso dobles, various breeds of waltz, klezmer, polkas, and oh so much more." The CD has seventeen tracks of this mixture (- good for what ails you!), and you have the opportunity to buy and listen to the full album in streaming audio here  - Learn more about Rattletrap Ruckus from the official website of the band, here 
Redlight Rag - Album illustration by Jenny Rose
Below I'll insert a few more examples of the music played by Rattletrap Ruckus from the videos that have been uploaded at YouTube. - Here's first the band's interpretation of accordionist Guido Deiro's composition titled 'The Lola One-Step'

From a live performance last year Rattletrap Ruckus played Pedro Padilla's 'Llévame Al Cielo'

A composition by Luckas Hicks 'Aelita Queen of Mars' performed in a home video production

To end this small presentation of Rattletrap Ruckus, here's a live performance of the famous paso doble by Vicente Zecca 'Bella Morena' recorded New Year's Eve 2011 - enjoy!


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