What to do when vinyl delays push back all of your beautiful record releases? Clay Pipe Music has come up with a wonderful stopgap measure: a new series printed in a nearly forgotten format. The CD3″ (also known as the mini-CD) is back! This resurrection is led by an playful set, courtesy of Genoa’s Modus, a multi-faceted artist who draws from all manner of influence, as the label proudly states, “everything from 1940s and ’50s Vaudeville, Middle Eastern music, 13th century Gregorian Chants and Fellini’s cinema.” Playing this twenty-minute escapist journey is like ducking behind a curtain at the carnival, not knowing who or what one might find. The CD3″ is an instant mood lifter, and as another famous label once noted, the perfect length for a proper tea break.
Consider the horse on the cover as one found on a carousel, or a live animal trotting in a circle while bearing a woman twirling a parasol. One may make up one’s own stories while listening, as each of these tracks evokes specific associations. The Latin title translates as O Wondrous Novelty, which is fitting given the nature of the work and the pocket-sized format. There’s something new here, along with something old: a cavalcade of influences, modern synthesizer, a sense of fun.
“Nel Misolidio” adds brass to birds, building a thicket of squawk and percussion. The combination of thunder and beeps suggests gamers ducking into a vintage arcade to escape a torrent. Soon the orchestra arrives, and the canopy grows crowded. The keyboardist offers a sprightly tune, as if to invite some of the people to play in the rain and ease the congestion. In contrast, the slower title track launches with beats and whistles, then oompahs into a midsection of dance, including swift DJ scratches. In the next piece, the artist opens a toy box of clocks and cranks and distributes them for passers-by to play over an Arabic melody. Crowd enthusiasm is heard in the dinner banter and laughter of “Cabiria,” after which Modus ends the set with – why not – a waltz.
The release is short and light, but not insubstantial. This wondrous novelty is a breath of fresh air, the midday break that makes it possible to return to work, heart lightened and spirits improved. (Richard Allen)