Hard Metal Cantüs

Hard Metal Cantüs

A nod to Frank Zappa and Henry Cowell from a Texas guitar whiz
D. J. Sparr
The Lee Trio
Third Coast Percussion
Del Sol String Quartet
Lubbock Chamber Orchestra
Alex Browne
Chris DeChiara
Karen Strittmatter Galvin
Soloman Howard
Aundi Moore
Neemias Santos
D. J. Sparr
Kimberly Sparr
Richard White
Corbin DeSpain
Eric Allen
Wonkyung Kim-Sills
Michel Taddei
Catalog Number: 
#1 060
new classical
new music
string quartet
solo voice

Baton Rouge, LA

Release Date: 
Nov 13, 2020
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

“This album is about places, real and imagined. The trajectory of a melody lost among church towers. The cardinal points that orient human activity. The multiple dimensions of superstring theory and a melody from a nearby universe. The idea of a place – the afterlife – and a piece of music written as a gesture to help my old dog Lloyd navigate the bardo. And then our internal place, our world within our own mind, which if you learn to control yourself, you become irresistible.” Thusly, composer & electric guitarist D. J. Sparr describes his new album, Hard Metal Cantüs, adding that it also features “a nod to Frank Zappa and Henry Cowell.”

Featuring performances by The Lee Trio, Third Coast Percussion, Del Sol String Quartet, Lubbock Chamber Symphony (with rising-star tenor Corbin DeSpain), and D. J. Sparr himself, Hard Metal Cantüs takes listeners on a sonorous journey of ringing bells, metal percussion, searing strings, abstract haiku vocals, and finally funk-rock metal guitars.

The opening piano trio, Lost in the Old South Tower, reimagines the thirty-seventh tune from the Ainsworth Psalter (1612); a book brought over by the pilgrims, found in a church tower in Boston, Massachusetts, and straddles oceans to this day.

Percussion Quartet: Compass Chrome has Third Coast Percussion placed in north, south, east, and west positions in a square. Humming metal pipes and plates, tuned planks of wood, and bells and cymbals from around the world give way to unfolding melodies: Henry Cowell’s timbres but with a Baroque flair.

The Del Sol String Quartet brings at least ten dimensional layers of tunes and variations to Superstring Serenade. Pulses, delay effects, and extended techniques are applied to folkloric tunes with a post-Piazzola energy.

The Lubbock Chamber Orchestra with solo vocalist, Corbin DeSpain, and pianist, Wonkyung Kim-Sills, evokes the afterlife in an homage to the composer’s trusty boxer dog, Lloyd (2005-2017). Adapting texts by Basho about navigating the Bardo phase, the work details the Wild West spirit, piping autumn wind, flashes of lightning, heron’s cries, and finally the departure: wild goose flies away.

The album closes with a look inside. The World Within is our internal place, the world within our own mind…which if you learn to control, you become irresistible. Here we go from the outer worlds to our inner world. And then of course, even the worlds that are within ourselves. It is here that Sparr's rock-funk wah-wah guitars take the highest voice in the polyphonic tapestry. It uses the same musical processes as the previous works, but with hair tied up in Zappa-pig-tails accompanied by snare-cadence rock drums, a studio string section, Austin Texas Bass, and a wall of guitar amps. Guest appearances by Soloman Howard, Aundi Moore, and Richard white are the metaphorical "metal umlaut" on this collection.

Baton Rouge-based composer & electric guitarist D. J. Sparr has been described as a “A Texas guitar whiz with the chops to bang his sounds out to all fields across the entire music spectrum.” Who are we to resist?



"The second release with Innova Recordings by composer and electric guitarist D.J. Sparr, which confirms the eclectic and communicative qualities already exhibited previously, thanks also to top-level performances by ensembles - The Lee Trio, Third Coast Percussion, Del Sol String Quartet, Lubbock Chamber Orchestra - among the most representative in the contemporary context. The five compositions performed here, lasting an average of ten minutes each, are crossed by a sort of electricity that manifests itself in different forms, sometimes more hidden, as latent - this is the case, for example, of the percussion quartet -, evidently elsewhere. , even in the modern and material sounds (almost rock), as in the The World Within suite. Even when it seems about to light up to the point of derailing, Sparr's music maintains its own firm formal firmness, which demonstrates the composer's mastery in ordering the rhythmic and harmonic inventions that animate his scores." [FULL ARTICLE] - Filippo Focosi