The Boxhead Ensemble is a bunch of Chicago- and Louisville-based musicians led by Michael Krassner. After recording a soundtrack to the movie documentary Dutch Harbor in 1997, Krassner and his associates from groups such as Pinetop Seven and Australia's Dirty Three actually went on the road to perform this evocative music at several of the film's screenings across Europe. Using a revolving cast of accomplished musicians, the performances were understated instrumentals intended to accompany the film's powerful visual images of an Alaskan fishing town near the Bering Sea.
The imposing footage of Dutch Harbor's massive, frozen environment seems to have been particularly inspiring for the Boxhead Ensemble. These live recordings from concerts in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands showcase an intuitive musical process that exudes a hushed but undeniable strength. Talented improvisers, like guitarist Mick Turner and violinist Julie Pommerleau, all contribute greatly to the dark, moody intensity of this recording. Falling somewhere among introspective jazz, noirish spaghetti-western Muzak and gentle prog-rock improvisations, the Boxhead Ensemble creates a sonic universe mirroring a glacial netherworld found in the mostly uncharted regions of the far North.
While appearances by jazz virtuoso Ken Vandermark and the notorious Palace Brother Will Oldham flesh out the compelling group dynamics, it is the subliminal talents of Pinetop Seven alumni Charles Kim, Ryan Hembry and Fred Lonberg-Holm that really enhance this recording. If you're looking for a minor milestone of thoughtful musical understatement, The Last Place To Go is the first place to look.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.