By Clive Young.
Musical mashups are usually the domain of DJs, layering mismatched songs on top of each other with sometimes dazzling results, but the concept is rarely explored by gigging musicians beyond the occasional musical wink, dropping four bars of another song into whatever they’re playing. Not so with Peter Kiesewalter, mastermind behind the Grammy-nominated East Village Opera Company and his new genre-bending mashup machine, Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata (BRO).
BRO’s debut album, The Hills Are Alive, takes on the classic Broadway songs of The Sound of Music. Thanks to his crazy arrangements, the album finds Kiesewalter and the rest of his tight musicians careening from genre to genre like a Rolls-Royce out of control. Just take “Do Re Mi,” done in a letter-perfect aping of The Jackson Five’s “ABC,” or the title song, which crams in references to Boston, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Clash, Steve Miller and Led Zeppelin in the blink of an eye. Don’t believe it? Check out the video below—the song starts at the 0.55 mark.
While the expert musicianship brought to bear is part of what makes BRO appealing, none of it would work without mixes that also pay homage to the original songs and genres. That, too, is a painstaking process; accordingly, here’s Kiesewalter and mix engineer Neil Dorfsman slowly losing their minds during a two-week mix session at Saint Claire Recording Company in Lexington, KY.
Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata