Mark Applebaum ‎– Intellectual Property™

Innova Recordings ‎– Innova 602
CD, Album


1 Intellectual Property I
2 Plundergraphic
3 Ferneyhough Remix (Affection Aphorism 1)
4 Mouseketier Praxis (Private & Consensual Activity I)
5 Mouseketier Praxis (Private & Consensual Activity II)
6 Mouseketier Praxis (Private & Consensual Activity III)
7 Mouseketier Praxis (Private & Consensual Activity IV)
8 Scipio Wakes Up (And Smells The Coffee)
9 Pre-Composition


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June 24, 2012
MARK APPLEBAUM walks as a giant through the land of Avant Garde Jazz composition. As fearless as a barbarian, he strides with confidence where many others seem to step with trepidation and a cringing caution. And perhaps this is where his music works so well - maybe you should approach uncharted lands not so much as a humbled and respectful stranger, but as a blood-thirsty invader with no care or caution where, on what or on whom he treads. His style wins every time with this reviewer - marching boldly forward where others (and I must say, people I have the greatest respect for) have crept from shadow to shadow.

From scampering Jazz piano work outs that are mad as a squirrel driven insane by captivity, through spiky lands of percussive trills, rumbles and weirdness, he blows all comers away - from old school composition to electro dabblers like AUTECHRE, KOMET, HAT and PAN SONIC to other Avant Garde giants like REICH and RILEY. Even such wizards of noise wonder as TONART, SIX AND MORE, UN DRAME MUSICAL INSTANTANE might cry with shame - you have had us fooled for years, bringing us alleged wonders from beyond the realms of imagination - you're all charlatans. Maybe VARESE with his "Poeme Electronique" will be allowed passage - maybe it was he who originally opened the portal to the worlds beyond, and he should be spared the sword in his dotage. Oh, fear you lily-livered pretenders - the day of reckoning is at hand, and we shall all bow to this composer.

"Intellectual Property I"

Deceptively misleading us into assuming this album would be so much more pedestrian, this Jazz composition scampers around like a spider with eighteen legs trying to maintain a vast web in a maelstrom of flying insects, occasionally pausing for breath before heading off in several directions at once again. A bright and pleasant, mind-shrinkingly complex piece appearing to possess an insane humour which pushes back the limits. For those mornings when waking slowly and having to gradually come to terms with leaving a warm, soft bed just won't do, coffee just doesn't stimulate sufficiently and you need to invigorate and motivate yourself. Yet somehow not so complex as to leave you perplexed.


After the opening, so much more 'normal' track, this is the portal into APPLEBAUM's greater works. Opening moodily, this is a complex alien soundscape where normality has fragmented into percussive buttons, pointilistically atomised from the corporeal state you'd expect from piano, cello, percussion, flute & piccolo. Perhaps it's RYAN FRANCESCONI, credited as a 'Diffusion Artist' who has dissolved everything into this ambient state, where notes give way to texture and image.

"Ferneyhough Remix (Affection Aphorism 1)"

Descending further into the realms of strange, this is where the album really takes off. Described as being for '2 percussion & tape', this just goes so far beyond what you might expect, in an instant blasting all the Junglists, Cut & Click artists and electronic dabblers out of the water. The sheer atmospheric diversity of this work should wipe the smug expression from many faces.

"Mouseketier Praxis (Private & Consensual Activity I)"

Deeper and darker than the previous track, this is the sound of taut metal plucked almost at the point where tensile strength fails. It's percussive and atmospheric, a completely unearthly progression through underworlds of some distant planet in another dimension. How far from music you can go without just becoming noise or chaos? Not sure, but APPLEBAUM's explorations are pushing back the frontiers the way few 'experimentalists' seem to be capable of.

"Mouseketier Praxis (Private & Consensual Activity II)"

The Second piece in this "Mouseketier Praxis" suite explores a rhythmic avenue, with a primal core of what sounds like hammered strings or low percussion, around which a myriad ghostly vapours weave their strange way throughout the sedate spine. Reminds me a little of RAIN TREE CROW, yet APPLEBAUM takes things even further, upsetting the peaceful interior with creepy sounds appearing briefly out of the aether.

"Mouseketier Praxis (Private & Consensual Activity III)"

Following on from the previous track, this takes a similar passive rhythmic core and passes it through prisms, reflects it down the hall of mirrors, them returns it, a jumbled jungle of deep, warm shadows where eyes watch and hungry mouths salivate. Unafraid of using studio technique alongside composition, the sounds build and fade, speed up and dive, without ever seeming to lose sight of the central 'theme'.

"Scipio Wakes Up (And Smells The Coffee)"

A friend once said the use of space could be a more effective musical tool than any amount of sound. APPLEBAUM and his impressive bunch of musicians use their sound sculptures, electronic drums, electronic marimba, violin & bassoon here to prove him right. Not exactly fragile, yet minimal enough to jar the nerves as the surface of some alien world comes to life, the intense glare of the twin suns waking all from their frozen slumber. When 'Scipio' does begin to awake, the more ambient side allows a more musical score to appear. The humour from the opening track is here, seeming strange against the unreal backdrop.

APPLEBAUM is the true son of those composers who pushed the limits forward - the likes of STOCKHAUSEN, VARESE, CAGE etc. He takes things so much further, and as far as he moves away from 'normality', he still manages to take humankind with him.


And if we hadn't spotted his humour already, it establishes itself here with an argument between the composer and his buddies. It's a clash of opinions all leading towards a composition. But rather than a brainstorming session, it soon becomes clear that this is a piece in itself - part improvised, part composed. Clever, very clever, trying to fool the listener into thinking this is not an actual track. Heard on the radio, it would just confuse the listener, which may just be the idea behind all but a couple of tracks here. And curiously enough, when after nearly 12 minutes it comes to a conclusion, I felt I could have listened to more.

Originally reviewed for Metamorphic Journeyman.