Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Tuck and Roll; Lost and Found; Eating Greens
PERFORMER: Steven Mackey (electric guitar); New World Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63826 2
If, during one of Steven Mackey’s pieces, you get the impression you’re listening to the soundtrack of a manic cartoon without the slightest clue as to what’s actually going on, you may be on the right track. Mackey invokes the infuriatingly indestructible Roadrunner as one of his toon heroes – no surprise there. During the free-associative quick-fire sequences of bangs, growls, hysterical flourishes and crazed glissandi that explode through these pieces it’s easy to find your thoughts invaded by images of characters being squashed flat by pianos, blasted out of cannons or plummeting down impossible abysses. And like the classic American cartoon scores, Mackey’s pieces echo a dizzying range of other musics: Copland, Frank Zappa, Ives, backwoods blues, Thelonious Monk – often cartwheeling from one to the next and beyond before you’ve quite grasped which is what. On the whole, it tends to work best in short spans – as the great MGM or Warner cartoons do. (Who could last a feature-length Tom and Jerry?) But with such brilliant, energy-rich playing, there’s a lot of harmless fun to be had inventing pictures to fit the noises – or just enjoying them as sound-association games. Definitely different. Stephen Johnson