Review: Portland Cello Project’s Homage

Portland Cello Project: Homage

Portland Cello Project: Homage (Jealous Butcher)

“H*A*M” (Kanye West & Jay-Z)

[audio:|titles=Portland Cello Project: “H*A*M”]

Since 2007, the Portland Cello Project has taken the cello where few have gone before, offering chamber and string-based renditions of movie themes, pop songs, classical pieces, and more — even metal tunes such as Pantera’s “Mouth for War.” The group’s live and recorded output now boasts more than 900 pieces, varying between straightforward arrangements with a handful of cellos to setups of grandiose proportions, with a dozen of its namesake instrument being supported by full choirs, winds, and percussion.

On Homage, PCP pays tribute to hip hop by reworking influential hits such as “Hey Ya” by Outkast and “That’s My Bitch” and “H*A*M” by Kanye West and Jay-Z. “Canon on a Lollipopalicious Theme,” for example, takes Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” and elegantly transforms its beats and vocoded rhymes to a string-quartet structure. In many regards, it’s unrecognizable in contrast to the ridiculousness of the original, but it manages to highlight many of the song’s catchiest aspects. The rest of Homage is built the same way, and whether or not you like hip hop or know the original tracks, fans of crossover chamber pieces (with beats) will enjoy the group’s latest.

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