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"The Strange Parade Review"
July 3, 2007

An incredible delight hearing the beauty and calmness of a string quartet with the powerful and demanding sound of percussion. Invert takes their already wonderful sound and mixes in guest drummer Roberto Rodriguez to create an awesome compilation record that will appeal to jazz and rock listeners alike. This is a true bonding of music. Check out tracks 2 "Dog Days", track 3 "The March", track 5 "Yumeji's Theme", track 12 "Trainwreck", and track 15 "Truth Serum". - Lane Zoerhof - Lane Zoerhof

"Invert - The Strange Parade Review"

May 22, 2007
I think it was Henry Miller who said, “Music is a beautiful opiate, if you don’t take it too seriously.” That thought is exceedingly important in the realm of instrumental and post-rock music, where pretentiousness seems to come pre-packaged with tremolo, reverb, and crashing walls of sound. It’s not to say that music needs to be lazy, goofy, or composed in a sandbox; rather it appears this genre is simply overpopulated with folks who believe the sound they push through speakers cannot be touched by others and can only be appreciated by those lucky enough to understand the upper echelon of instrumental rock (also known as the "Golden Shit Syndrome").

Thank god for a group of folks like Invert, who have taken their musicianship very seriously (we’re talking Yale, Harvard, and Berkley musical backgrounds), but have approached things in an extremely FUN way. A flipped version of the classical string quartet, the group includes an additional cello and manages to completely avoid any trendy tripwires or pompous pitfalls in their production of what can best be described by the admittedly clunky catch-all “neoclassical” genre.

Nietzschean strings dovetail across 15 tracks, each pivoting around the dynamic interplay between the musicians and their tools. The album includes a brief intro and a handful of interludes for good measure, but things don’t fully flourish until the longer tracks like “Launchpad” have time to simmer and boil into a frenzy of violent coaction. Two tracks also include guest percussion work, infusing a dose of good ol’ dependable funk/rock into the mix.

What’s ironic is despite the mix of short, long, and even themed tracks (Shigeru Umebayashi’s “Yumeji’s Theme” is rearranged), the disc maintains an extremely tight cohesiveness and accord. Not one musician or instrument overpowers another as the the pieces develop -- truly the epitome of classical collaboration. In fact, it’s almost as if the artists transform into their instruments, rather than just play them. Whether it’s the fierce slice of heavy strings slapping the speakers on the title-track or the delicate effusion displayed in the above-mentioned “Yumeji’s Theme”, the sound is chock full of character and life. Each piece animatedly beams with genuine meaning, as if introducing itself as a new friend.

Despite the accuracy of my hallucinogenic analogies, one thing is clear -- these guys are enjoying what they do. “The Peak” is a clear example of traditional classical music turned on its head, as the drums sync in with bouncy string work that is bound to make the listener double check what disc is playing. The group quickly rebounds with the somber, quiet explorations of “For Hinda” and “August Night”. However, despite their atmospheric sadness, both pieces seem to soar with character and life upon multiple plays. Again, talent meets enjoyment and good music is made.

In retrospect, Miller’s quote is easy to misconstrue. It’s applicability to the modern music scene is solely in the hand of the subjective audience, however, I think it’s fair to say that the seriousness many instrumental bands approach their music with can be a tad overwhelming. On the flip side, “fun” music doesn’t have to necessarily be confined to maracas and dancing women (although that may not always hurt...). Regardless, Invert has successfully found a convivial middle ground on their latest release, which they seem to be more than slightly aware of given the suggestive album title. Oh yes, it is a Strange Parade.

-Jonathan Brooks - The Silent Ballet

"Crossing the Classical/Rock Divide"

Ever since the Beatles garnished some of their tunes with string quartets and Baroque trumpets, classically trained musicians have tried to enforce shotgun weddings between classical and rock music. Despite conscientious attempts by rockers like Elvis Costello, Roger Waters, Joe Jackson and Paul McCartney, the results have generally been disappointing. Still, art music types like Michael Daugherty, John Zorn, David Byrne, the Kronos Quartet and the late great Penguin Cafe Orchestra show that "chamber rock" can produce an original, compelling sound. On Nov. 3, the WOW Hall hosts two of today's most successful examples of classical-rock fusion: Invert and Rachel's.

Invert is a New York based string quartet (but with two cellos rather than dueling violins) that uses the propulsive energy of rock rhythms and the melodic potential of classical strings to powerful effect, sort of like a slightly less jazzy Turtle Island String Quartet. TISQ
and Kronos fans should definitely check out this fab foursome, which can cover an impressive range of moods and styles, including their sometimes bustling, sometimes haunting original compositions as well as covers like Bernard Herrmann's Psycho score and John Lennon's psychedelic classic "Tomorrow Never Knows."

Rachel's, based in Louisville, KY, similarly transgresses genre boundaries, drawing audiences from punks to classical types. Their audience-friendly music can be so atmospheric that it sometimes veers near ambient, then it might suddenly unleash vigorous percussion, piano, or voice (live and sampled). Fans of classical, post-classical, art rock and anyone who likes sounds that cross borders between musical genres should turn out for what looks to be one of the most interesting concerts of the year. The sellout crowds for cellist Matt Haimovitz's shows at Sam Bond's a couple years back proved that classical types are willing to venture beyond the traditional "classical" venues.

Just as the musicians of Invert and Rachel's are willing to take chances, admirers of thoughtful new music should support the WOW Hall's commendable effort to create a space outside the expensive, often stodgy concert venues for music that refuses to be pigeonholed, and that embraces the best aspects of old and new sounds.

Brett Campbell
- Eugene Weekly

"Not Your Grandfather's Chamber Music"

"Public Enemy was playing shows when we started," Rachel's leader Jason Noble said by way of introducing his chamber-rock ensemble Sunday night during a standing-room-only concert at the Cactus Cafe.

Man, has it really been that long? (That hip-hop group hasn't been a public force in years.) The Louisville collective of rock musicians and string players dates back to 1991, but didn't release an album until 1995, when players in Noble's groundbreaking rock band Rodan went its separate ways. Many of these artists, as well as filmmaker Greg King (whose movies played in the background while Rachel's performed) worked with Rodan, and one gets the impression that this group is nothing more or less than a long-standing community of friends and neighbors that happens to make often-riveting, hard-to-classify modern music.

New York "chamber-core" (their tongue-in-cheek term) string quartet Invert opened the show with a nuanced set of dissonant themes and striking moments. Known for bringing rock dynamics to the centuries-old format, Invert alternated between its own compositions and discreetly chosen covers. A passage from Umebayashi Shigeru's score to "In the Mood For Love" was the prettiest moment, while their own piece "The March" was the most dramatic, a spectral theme and military-sounding base resolving into thunderous overtones.

Invert joined Rachel's for part of the latter band's set, which Noble said meant this tour was the first time the group had enough string players to perform some of their more detailed compositions, such as "Warm Body" and "Moscow/Clusters" - at one point, nine musicians were packed onto and in front of the tiny Cactus stage.

With King's films of silent cityscapes as the background, the core band quintet traded off instruments (various pieces included viola, laptop, drums, vibes piano and organ, cello, guitar and electric bass) for rockish pieces that had yet to be recorded ("F# Haze") and more dramatic themes (the deeply melancholy "And Keep Smiling," the warm, acoustic "Frenching"). Here's to 15 more years of the world's coolest chamber music.

Joe Gross - Austin 360

"Bard Observer"

by Sarah Martino

Before Rachel's performed there was a set by the Invert String Quartet. Quite honestly I have never had a tremendous amount of patience for classical music. I can listen to it and appreciate the skill, but like the un-cultured teenager that I am, I sometimes get a little bored. (This may stem from my childhood associations with the genre - my father used to listen to classical music while he cooked breakfast on Saturday mornings, and his arrival at the stereo with his Beethoven cassette meant I had to turn off my cartoons. Thus, classical music became that of adulthood, ruining the bliss of my mornings with "Garfield and Friends." But that is neither here nor there). However, the Invert String Quartet, with their self-described "chamber-core," was quite enjoyable. One of their cellists, (they had two cellos, one violin, and one viola, hence the name "Invert Quartet"), was worth watching all on his own, as he played his instrument with more energy than many so-called "rock n roll" artists I have seen. The Invert Quartet played music that had a sense of urgency that is hard not to get excited by, no matter what kind of music you like. Because I know nothing about classical music, I can't really judge it properly on a technical level, but it sounded great to me. - Bard Observer, Issue 3, April 2005

"CD Baby Reviews Invert"

January 30, 2004

Inverting the string quartet from two violins, viola and cello to two cellos and one violin and viola, "Invert" is, first, a must for Kronos Quartet followers and second, required listening for the forging of contemporary classical string repertoire. In an album composed by its members, "Between The Seconds" takes the listener from driving, ostinato themes that excitedly crescendo with exponential energy to fully expansive and outward-reaching, atmospheric material to imaginative incorporation of world music elements and pop fusion. It is an album that appeals to both the classical academic as well as the "rock cello" interests. In short, there is no pause in the energy and vitality of this group. Extraordinary.

CD Baby review staff: Tamara Turner / Pamela Rooney / Derek Sivers - CB Baby

"Invert Eyes the String Quartet from a Different Point of View"

All of a sudden, it's hip to play in a string quartet, especially if you're playing in Erie.
Two weeks ago, Ethel appeared as part of the Logan Wintergarden series at Penn State Behrend. Now it's Invert's turn.

On the surface, the two ensembles have much in common. Both are based in New York, and both draw their members from the generation of string players not yet 40 years of age. Neither plays the standard quartet repertoire that began with Haydn.
But there the similarities end. Invert couldn't play a Beethoven quartet if they wanted to; the quartet has two cellos instead of the standard quartet instrumentation of two violins, viola, and cello. It's a string quartet turned upside down.
And neither of the cellists is classically trained. In fact, Chris George, who co-founded the group with fellow cellist Steven Berson, didn't pick up the instrument until he was 27.
"Growing up in New Haven, I was a bassist in rock bands," George told me from his New York home. "So was Steve, and . . . when I started learning the cello, I was feeling spent and no longer inspired playing in rock bands."
He hit upon the idea of forming a string band, a group that would have "the same approach and aesthetic as any rock band I was in." - Erie Times-News, Erie PA

"Rites of String - Vanity Fair"

Percussive rhythmic patterns and a wild mix of musical influences - rock, jazz, Philip Glass, and movie music by such composers as Fred Katz and Bernard Herrmann drive the music of Invert, a New York-based ensemble. "It's chamber music meets the Velvet Underground," says Chris George, the group's founder. A former rock bass guitarist and sitarist, George, now a cellist, took out ads in New York alternative newspapers to find other adventurous souls; in the classic manner of like-seeking-like personal ads, he netted another rock bassist turned cellist, Steve Berson. Within a year they added two musicians who have brought along an increasing amount of jazz improvisation: Helen Yee, a violinist, and Asha Mevlana, a classical violist. The group's name derives from their inversion of the traditional string-quartet format - they use two cellos instead of the usual two violins.
This year, Invert has met with great success on the New York club circuit, particularly at Brooklyn's Galapagos, a venue at the forefront of the emerging Williamsburg arts scene. The ensemble has been surprised by the intense response of its listeners. Galapagos owner Robert Elmes says there is always a deep pause among the audience after each number. "You can tell from the body language that they're reflecting about what they just heard."
-Doug Stumpf - Vanity Fair

"Greg Sandow on Invert"

January 2003
Invert is a New York-based string quartet, with two cellos instead of two violins. I met one of its cellists at a concert; he sent me the CD, named after the group; I liked it. These are people with both pop and classical backgrounds, not to mention jazz and world music. They've played at Galapagos and The Knitting Factory, and backed the rock group Guided By Voices on a CD.

One thing I like is that three of them write the group's music. That's a good inspiration for classical performers. There's too much mystique about composing. Rock and jazz musicians routinely compose. Why shouldn't classical players?

And these people compose nicely. There's always something simple going on—like scales in contrary motion, on the first and shortest track, "Machine" (by one of the cellists, Chris George). The scales are part of a musical landscape that includes syncopations, a neatly curving melody, and happy swoops upward in the violins. The scales grow out of the syncopations and melody, and they end the piece, left naked when rhythm under them drops out. There's nothing to these scales, and yet they sound modestly perfect. They stop short of what you'd think was going to be their final note, a deft touch, and also a conceptual echo of the first melodic phrases, which also end one note short of what you think will be their destination. The note these phrases end on is prolonged, which underlines how perfectly "not right" it is. (Not right in the best sense, of course.)

Though certainly these fine points wouldn't mean anything if the music weren't so attractive. Melodies swing by with an easy familiarity, making themselves right at home in part because they really do sound familiar, but not so familiar that they're obvious. One great virtue of this music is that it's never too easy. (Like—shudder—the horrors on the latest CD from the pop- tart string quartet Bond, in which four British women, made over so they barely look human, play empty junk over bad dance beats.) You can hear Invert yourself on their engaging website, where of course you can also buy the CD. - NewMusicBox


Invert has released three full-length albums:

The Strange Parade (April 2007, Inverted Music)
Between The Seconds (May 2004, Capstone Records)
Invert (December 2000, Inverted Music)

Allied Radio Recordings, vol. 1 (May 2001, Allied Radio) - "After The Fall," a live improvisation recorded at Galapagos in November 2000, was chosen by Allied Radio, an independent label based in Roanoake, Virginia, as the first track for their first CD compilation.

Invert has also performed the string arrangements on a number of albums by Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices:

Robert Pollard - Silverfish Trivia (2007, Prom Is Coming)

Universal Truths and Cycles (June 2002, Matador)
Back To The Lake (May 2002, Fading Captain)
The Pipe Dreams Of Instant Prince Whippet (2002, Fading Captain)



Drawing from diverse, eclectic musical backgrounds, Invert's members defy tradition by being firmly rooted in rock, jazz and world musics rather than the classical upbringing typical of most string players. The group's compositions range from moody pieces evocative of soundtracks from expressionist cinema, to driving melodic works, often leaving open sections for improvisation that add to the excitement of their live performances.

Invert has regularly performed at many renowned New York venues, including The Knitting Factory, Irving Plaza, The Cutting Room, Joe's Pub, The Kitchen, Makor and Trinity Church at Wall Street. They have recorded string accompaniments for two releases by legendary indie rockers Guided By Voices, and have appeared on bills with artists as diverse as Mission of Burma, Erik Friedlander, Alloy Orchestra, Zoe Keating, American Analog Set, Quasi, and Rasputina.

You can find Invert at, or