When knee deep in November, the idea of June rises in us much like summer comes on to schoolchildren and fills their nights with wonder and infinite longing. There’s something sublime in the architecture of the month, something that stirs the imagination and whets the palate. We make plans in June. We set forth and leave the shore. We dream about it in the onset of winter.
Guitarist/composer Mark Yodice has been making and arranging music since he learned to play at thirteen. His newest collection of original material, …of raging waters (released recently under the pseudonym the june rise), marks the arrival of a serious force in the landscape of contemporary instrumental music with ten gorgeous compositions that move through a myriad of emotional and sonic territories with deft skill, invention and grace.
Like a Rothko painting in which the sheer immensity of color masks the individual strokes that create it, Yodice’s work shines because of intricate playing beneath a gigantic artistic vision. Though he refers to it as “unapologetically bizarre” (which it is, at times, in a very beautiful and haunting way), one can hear the singularity of the various influences—Hungarian composers Béla Bartók and György Ligeti, 1950s jazz, South American rhythms, African kora music, funk, Americana and Björk, to name a few. They come together to create something new but comfortingly familiar, something from the future but stunningly evocative. The whole is greater than the parts, yes, but in Yodice’s music the parts are ever so important as well and (lucky for us) incredibly satisfying to the ear.
The paradox introduced early on in “The Good Lion” is echoed throughout the collection. The regality that charms us with primal beauty sitting in repose might tear us apart if we get too close. And so the story goes. Hushed harmonics (like the inside of a clock) are juxtaposed with booming percussion in “Pull the Arrow,” the warm guitar’s lullaby drizzled with lonely digitized feedback in “30 Feet Tall,” and on and on. One particularly poignant moment comes at the end of “Loveliest,” when the sweet arpeggiated melody is transformed into a sprightly jigsaw of rhythm and repetition. We eagerly follow the dizzying swoon.
The collection’s final two tracks “Brooklyn Sleep Prayer” and “Montauk, Summer Rain” embody the trajectory of Yodice’s life and career thus far. He was born in Queens and lived on eastern Long Island for several years before settling in Brooklyn. As it was for the New York City/Long Island poets and painters who came before him, this dichotomy of urban dreams and country dreams is integral in the formation of his artistic vision and sound, and at the core of …of raging waters’ inimitable beauty.
You can catch Mark Yodice at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, November 5 at 4pm. Music from …of raging waters is currently available through the artist until an official release in February of 2012. facebook.com/thejunerise.