Visit the artist's site at http://www.erikfriedlander.com
The first thing to know about Erik Friedlander is that he is a unique cellist whose work blurs genre borders. Is he a composer or improviser? Is this classical music or jazz? The LA Times put it best when they wrote, "Friedlander's performance clearly positions him as the first potential star performer on his instrument." Maldoror is his first solo recording.
Erik was born in New York City in 1960 and grew up in suburban Rockland County, son of the noted artist Lee Friedlander. Along with photographers Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand, Lee is recognized as one of the best street photographers of the 1960s. His work can be found in museums around the world. But Lee is also known by musicians and jazz aficionados for the cover photos he took for Atlantic Records. His passion for r&b and jazz greatly influenced Erik, whose earliest memories are of a household filled with the sounds of his father's subjects--Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane. Erik started playing guitar at age 6 and added cello two years later. He began formal lessons at age 12.
Erik continued his musical studies at Columbia University in 1978. Upon graduation, he spent the next decade refining his cello technique through long hours of practice, supporting himself by playing in various orchestras and Broadway shows, recording commercial music for jingles and movies, and doing session work with artists like Laurie Anderson, Dar Williams, and Courtney Love's Hole.
Erik came into his own in the 1990s as he became an integral part of NYC's downtown jazz scene. He played with artists like saxophonist John Zorn, tenor player Joe Lovano, and trumpeter Dave Douglas; he toured and recorded with two of his own groups, Chimera and the still-extant Topaz. Erik has played on records released on labels like Tzadik and Avant, receiving notices in publications like the Boston Globe, The Wire, and Billboard which wrote, "Friedlander [is] one of today's most ingenious and forward- thinking musical practitioners."
Maldoror consists of ten improvisations inspired by the early surrealist poems of Lautroamont and recorded in Berlin's Teldex Studios. Intense, mystical, and beautiful, it is a journey into music's darkest heart.
In a darkened recording studio in old East Berlin, in a seance-like atmosphere, a time-traveling collaboration took place between the lawless black humor of the 19th-century poet Isidore Ducasse and the daring and sensitivity of the 21st century cellist Erik Friedlander. Producer Michael Montes, an audience of one, had carefully selected 10 excerpts from Ducasse's Maldoror which he believed would be particularly good for inciting musical inspiration. In the course of one hour the excerpts were placed in front of Erik one at a time. He responded to each excerpt with what you hear on this recording. The music is beautiful, mystical, intense--a journey into music's darkest heart.
Andre Bréton wrote that the Comte de Lautréamont's Les Chants de Maldoror is "the expression of a revelation so complete it seems to exceed human potential." Little is known about its pseudonymous author aside from his real name, Isidore Ducasse, his birth in Uruguay in 1846, and his early death in Paris in 1870. Lautréamont's writings bewildered his contemporaries but the Surrealists modeled their efforts after his menacing visions of angels, gravediggers, hermaphrodites, pederasts, lunatics and strange children. Maldoror includes the full text of the poems that inspired Erik's improvisations, laid out in an elegant package by designer Heung-Heung Chin.