Amy X. Neuburg and the Cello Chixtet: The Secret Language of Subways
The number of artsong writers just grows and grows: composing and performing your own song cycle has clearly never been cooler. However, I often feel that I’m at a disadvantage living on this side of the Atlantic, so far from the clubs and bars in which this music is growing up. Finding an appropriate critical framework is tricky.
Amy X. Neuburg’s burlesque-gothic mini-musical is really smartly put together and has caught me out several times when I’ve been tempted to draw an unsympathetic generalisation. Critical framework or not, that’s a sign of good craft. Most of the rhetoric comes from pop or Broadway, but it’s given an ‘art’ twist with electronics and cello trio that never sound bolted on for the sake of crossover cachet but are properly integrated into the overall aesthetic. Most of the tracks are Neuburg’s songs, but the fact that one is a structured instrumental improvisation gives you an idea of the genre flexibility in her style.
It’s an artsong minefield out there, but Neuburg is a safe bet.