Pop-Pop, the collaborative new album from cellist extraordinaire Joan Jeanrenaud and art-funk percussionist/beatmaker PC Muñoz, is an exilharating mash-up of contemporary classical/new music sensibilities and future-funk/hip-hop sonic aesthetics. Jeanrenaud's polyrhythmic compositions, rendered on both acoustic and electric celli, are paired with skittering electro-funk beats, eruptive drumkit, cajon drums, Hua Pan Gu (traditional Chinese drum), and other percussive elements, making for a refreshing, culturally diverse 21st century sound.
Pop-Pop contains Jeanrenaud’s most playful music to date. There’s a big, implicit grin behind the dance that takes place between the cellist’s percussive bow strikes, pizzicato playing, and swirling arco phrases and the drumming, bleeps, burps, scratches, clicks, mixes, and washes brought in by Muñoz and Lieberman. But this highly refined music also evokes both contemporary classical and cinematic legacies (Glass? Reich? Riley? Ligeti? Hermann?). And for all the lively tempos, Devo-esque electronic pulses, and edgy avant-rock drumming, a certain darkness pervades many of the tracks. Dramatically ascending and descending glissandos, overlapping mournful phrases from two to six overdubbed celli, a feeling of unrelenting compression and extension, and eddies of dense, shadowy textures all contribute to the inexorable emotional gravity. What pops out from this canny interplay of mechanical and human elements is a complex musical personality as singular and fresh as it is steeped in history and experience.