Various Artists 

Third Lip Cabaret: Opened (Third Lip)

The difficulty in reviewing compilation albums is that their variety precludes any sort of general summation or brief synopsis. This conundrum is the very essence of St. Louis' Third Lip Cabaret: Masterminds Mike Marwit and Eric Hall pack each Third Lip extravaganza with a dazzling array of artists, creating sensory bacchanalia unlike any other artistic experience to be found in St. Louis. Unless you have enjoyed the Third Lip Cabaret in person, you can't really describe the experience to the uninitiated without falling prey to hoity-toity terms like "sensory bacchanalia." That's a good thing though, because if you could pigeonhole with a handful of mundane words what Marwit, Hall and their collaborators created on the night of their "Say Hi" performance, the Third Lip wouldn't be such a magical, goofy treasure.

If you missed the "Say Hi" event, shame on you. Opened captures but one track from each of the musical performers that night, giving just a taste of the evening's delights. It's like having the audio from 2001 but not the images. Yes, it's a great soundtrack, but you're only getting one-fifth the total experience. Where's the observation tent? Where are the flowers? Where's the cake?

The one-fifth of Third Lip you get with Opened is a pretty satisfying percentage. The Tear the Country Club Up Thug DJs display the timing and sense of humor on "30-Love" that made Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis superstars. Too many DJs approach the turntables like physicists entering the particle accelerator. The Country Club Thugs bring a little levity to the current turntablist theories of gravity, proving that being serious does not require being humorless.

At the other end of the spectrum looms Dave Stone. He hooks a microphone to a mess of effects pedals, drops the mike into the bell of his saxophone and then works the room over with a display of bareknuckle sax that would leave Peter Brotzmann punch-drunk and canvas-backed. If the five minutes, 46 seconds of "Infinitely Collapsible Space" are totally improvised, then Stone is a genius; if they were composed beforehand, he must surely be mad. No one could be a conduit for such beautiful noise and remain unchanged by its presence; Dave Stone is truly something else.

Also included is the four-way conversation among Mark Deutsch's bazantar, DJ Ses' turntables, Dave Stone's sax and Eric Hall's soundscape architecture. It's either jazz or the greatest party record released this year. Invite a few friends over and discuss the possibilities offered by Opened; that's what the Third Lip is all about.

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