MP3 Corbin Keep - Call of the Wild Cello
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9 MP3 Songs in this album (38:38) !
Related styles: FOLK: Power-folk, FOLK: Modern Folk
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If you never thought a cello could be an instrument of intense music beyond the bounds of a string ensemble, you need to hear British Columbia's Corbin Keep. He attacks the cello like a rocker on folk-based romps such as "The Feast" and "Flavour of the Minute." He produces hauntingly beautiful sounds in "Common Thread" and a frenetic intensity in "Aliens." Add to his talents the passionate vocals, intelligent and often humorous lyrics and solid writing and you have a unique treat.
- Mark E Waterbury, Music Morsels
'Do not go where the path may lead, go
instead where there is no path and leave a
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think that Corbin Keep, hiding himself away on
Bowen Island, just west of Vancouver (BC) is all too
familiar with both Emerson, and Emerson's forest.
His debut CD is nothing less than completely
unique and engaging. As he is basically creating
his own genre of music here, there really is
nothing and no one to compare him with, and
that's the beauty of what he has created.
Corbin's music and his perspective are very
refreshing, and the musical moods that he creates,
starting with his Cello, are amazing. Add to this
Corbin's unique vocal stylings, which is a
worthwhile acquired taste, and you have plenty to
contemplate as you listen. You will be challenged
both musically and lyrically. One moment, we are
seduced into a beautiful world where we all could
get along as in 'Common Thread' (with the lines
'we are woven of a common thread, indivisible but
for our heads'), and the next we are contemplating
the bizarreness of our existence through the words
and lyrics of the very catchy 'Aliens'. And, just like
with aliens, you're going to have to hear to
I always knew I liked the cello, but now, as it is
pushed to new heights, I like it even more. It's
beautiful to hear what one man can do with one
instrument. The songs are decorated with other
instruments, but it is always the cello
masterminding the songs. That, and Corbin's
words, insights and humour, make each song an
all around delight.
It's hard to not recommend this CD to just about
anyone, but what it does best is offer a shining
example of what fun it is to discover what it's like
to do your own thing, with no apologies to anyone.
Keep it up Corbin, we could use some more of you
- Steve Allat, The Muse's Reviews
Comparison may be the critic's most frequently used tools. It is not available in the case of a truly novel record like this one. This is cerebral adult pop cello fronting electric bass and drums. Occasional guitar (also by Mr. Keep) and percussion lure the listener briefly into familiar territory, but by and large, this is new terrain. As a singer and songwriter, Keep is in an early Bowie / late Kinks mode, bouncing from humor to fantasy to serious monologues, both interior and extroverted.
Early on, the record makes one wonder why cello is so neglected in popular music and, of course, one gets the idea that this artist must have a unique mastery of his instrument in order to communicate with it as he does. It is quite versatile, with warm resonance and a range of tones that neither guitars nor guitar/amp/effects combinations could easily match. After listening to the record, it stays with you like that immensely hot, brief fling from long ago that your spouse doesn't know is often responsible for your pleasure five years into a marriage.
Press materials refer to Corbin Keep being described by some as the "Jimi Hendrix of the cello" and note that "Purple Haze" sometimes turns up in his live set list. Well, if Hendrix is your bag, then go for that line and buy this record. I will say, more broadly, that he appears to be able to do whatever he wants to do with his instrument, and that his imagination leads him to do things no one else would think of. I hope he has a chance to come south from Canada and appear live somewhere near Wilmington. He is the sort of artist who refreshes the imaginations of other artists.
Eight and a half songs (you have to hear it). Pure recording, designed to capture and share real sound.
- On The Street (webzine)
The cello is beautiful. Most everyone agrees on that. It is often the
instrument of choice in movie soundtracks to evoke beauty, serenity or
sadness. But what is often overlooked is how, in the right hands, the cello
can evoke joy, exuberance, even ecstasy. Corbin Keep has just such hands.
On his CD, "Call of the Wild Cello", Corbin (the self-proclaimed wild
cellist) tears through nine original tunes, one instrumental and the rest
with lyrics, playing acoustic cello, guitar and singing in his rich
baritone. He is also accompanied by electric bass, drums and percussion,
giving him the freedom to go soaring freely into the nether-regions of the
cello's upper register. This is not to say that Corbin isn't capable of
holding down a funky driving groove, because he can do it like nobody's
Lyrically, Corbin tackles environmental and social concerns ("Pulse of the
Planet", "Common Thread") as well as just good fun about wild beasts and
aliens. He offers a nice variety of sounds and textures and, happily,
doesn't take himself too seriously. He knows how to have some fun. The song,
"What's Up" has the refrain "what's up today is nothing's gonna bring me
down" which seems to truly capture the mood of this optimstic, energetic
disc. Every note is played with passion and conviction and you just know
that Corbin cares about what he's doing. And Mr. Keep is indeed capable of
chilling out. Some of the music on this disc is calm, moody and beautiful.
After all, that's what cellos were made for right?
- Gideon Freudmann, Cello City Ink, newsletter of the New Directions Cello Association
Keep has a very unique voice and sensibility to his music. There is an obvious pleasure and 'fun' that comes through in his songs. Some of the songs are quite contemplative and reflective but it is evident that Keep plays music for the joy of it.
Most of the tracks are cello, bass and percussion but they don't at all sound sparse. The cello is quite a rich and emotive instrument. It was a wise choice to let the arrangements stay this subtle. Keep is a versatile, skilled and imaginative player. His voice is also rich and pleasing.
There is quite a diverse landscape covered here in Keep's songwriting. He has included songs here that incorporate various tempos while his moods range from the deepest soul searching to the most tongue in cheek humor. It is enjoyable to have such a wide spectrum explored in one songwriter.
I especially like "Common Thread". It is a lovely melody full of graceful movement and beautiful harmonies. "In Silent Awe" is also one of my favorites. Here is my compliment and in some small way a disclaimer: This is not mainstream pop. Fans of Penguin Café Orchestra and the Brodsky quartet work with Elvis Costello will want to hear Corbin Keep.
- Stacey Board, The Muse's Muse
Corbin Keep's Call of the Wild Cello promises to change the way we perceive the cello as an instrument. With cello/bass riffs that make me say, "I wish I wrote that!", hopeful, compassionate lyrics, and kickin' cello solos, Keep pushes the cello to new places. Most notable is his versatility as a composer and performer, his ability to fully immerse himself in one style then quickly shift to another; this disc is full of rhythmic interest and melodic variation. Highlights for me: Flavour of the Minute, a saucy, spicy instrumental of with rich textural underpinnings, and What's Up, a witty, wise song that we're all better off for hearing.
- Kristen Miller, Cellobrew, Byfield, MA
"I can't think of anybody who even comes close to his sound...comical, but also heartful at times"
- Jason Gondziola, Concordia Link, Montreal, QC
"Wild Cellist Prowls by Night"
Let me introduce you to my neighbourhood. It's a typical suburb in many ways, full of hard-working adults and quick children, minivans and dogs, bicycles and crows. Yet there are some differences. There aren't any streetlights, for one: the stars and the moon provide the only illumination, and on a clear night it is possible, despite the glow of the nearby city, to see the vast swath of the Milky Way. There are no freeways, either, although there is noise: the boom of the ocean on a rocky beach, the rustle and sigh of wind in the trees. And although there are no clubs and few concert venues, there are a lot of musicians.
Up the street, just beyond where the kids line up for the morning bus, there's Rob Thompson, cover-band singer supreme and a regular fixture in the Whistler pubs. The magnificent jazz drummer Buff Allen lives across the street, along with his singer wife, Louise Escallier. Moritz Behm, who infuses traditional fiddle music with his classical background, grew up on this road, although he's living elsewhere now, and on the next street over there's Ruta Yawney, a bell-toned singer and virtuoso on the harplike Ukrainian bandura. Songwriter Julie Vik has a house just up from her, and a little higher lives Corbin Keep, a self-described "wild cellist".
A wild creature he is too, skinny and intense, and if you walk the local roads at night, after the rest of the hard-working adults have retired to their beds, it's likely he'll be the only other human afoot. With a houseful of kids and cats, his nightly peregrinations are presumably his way of relaxing. But with the release of Keep's first solo CD, Call of the Wild Cello, it's clear that his night-owl exploits are also part of his quest for artistic inspiration.
Consider the CD's final track, "In Silent Awe". Both gentle farewell and anthemic statement, Keep's lyric compares the blue of his daughter's eyes to the blaze of a comet he saw on one of those nocturnal strolls, then links them both to the coastlines and forests that surround his home.
"There's something about the wooden, elemental quality of the cello that connects with the woody, elemental quality of our natural surroundings here," he says, echoing a theme that emerges in Call of the Wild Cello's meditative, chantlike "Pulse of the Forest". Yet part of the appeal of Keep's music is that it can be both mystical and playful: one minute he's deep in druidical reverie, the next he's mugging his way through the sci-fi flavoured "Aliens", the most popular number in his concert repertoire.
Part acoustic Black Sabbath, part tango, part Balkan rave-up, the tune dances to a peak of absurd speculation, referencing Star Trek, UFO abductions, and conspiracy theorist David Icke along the way. It's a hoot, and Keep isn't at all sure this is a good thing. "That song's going to follow me to my grave," he grouses good-naturedly. "I'll be 89 years old and still having to play 'Aliens'!
"I had a woman call me up about a month ago," he adds. "And she said, 'Corbin, listen to this.' Her kid is three, and he has this ritual: he puts all these pots and pans on the staircase in their kitchen, and then he puts on that song and bashes the pots and pans during the verses, then stands at attention to sing along during the chorus. So I guess it's funny and goofy and kids seem to like it."
Keep himself has been playing cello since he was 12, following an earlier infatuation with the guitar. "I got my first guitar when I was eight, at Griffith Furniture in Bellingham, Washington," he explains. "I pushed nine dollars and 99 cents, mostly pennies, across the counter, which was about as high as my forehead. And, interestingly enough, that first guitar was much like a cello, this gigantic acoustic guitar with f-holes. My sister destroyed it within months, but in Grade 6 I was given the opportunity to play the cello in school. I loathed band instruments, but the cello seemed okay because it was the closest thing to a guitar."
Although he still plays the cello's six-string cousin, Keep is clear where his loyalties lie. "What does the cello give me that the guitar doesn't?" he asks. "Well, let me count the ways. For one thing, the overtones are way richer; it's just a way richer, fuller tone. I also like that this kind of alternative cello-playing is territory that's been less well explored."
Whether searching for comets on a midnight stroll or taking the cello into new terrain, Keep continues to be an explorer--and in the process he's making my neighbourhood, and the musical world, a wilder and more entertaining place to be.
- Alexander Varty, Arts Editor, The Georgia Straight (Vancouver, BC)
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