Agrippa’s 3 Books

Agrippa’s 3 Books (2005)
Album Notes


EDMUND WELLES: THE BASS CLARINET QUARTET’s debut CD, Agrippa’s 3 Books, explores the expressive extremes of the four bass clarinets, inspired by occult philosophy heavy metal music.

Mixed and mastered by Grammy award-winning sound alchemist, Oz Fritz (Tom Waits, Bill Laswell, Primus), the sonorous timbre of this potent instrumentation takes woodwind chamber music into the realm of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Melt-Banana.

Agrippa’s 3 Books, features the piece of the same name (commissioned by Chamber Music America), composed by founding member, Cornelius Boots, as well as a classic metal trilogy of cover tunes from Black Sabbath, Sepultura, and Spinal Tap.

This album comes in Deluxe packaging (designed by Theresa Wong) including a 24-page booklet detailing connections between the occult, sound, the bass clarinet and various influences on the composition and performance.

Nice Things People Said

“There are patterns whose configuration mimes the harmony of the universe: a kind of ultra-sound, to establish contact with the subterranean currents.”

“All the frequencies I respond to.”

–Tom Waits about Edmund Welles

“This strange thing may be the most original and total use of the clarinet yet recorded. Steeped in arcane symbols, clever wit and skilled musicianship, Agrippa’s 3 Books defies all expectations of the range of its featured instrument. Despite the dense philosophies expounded in the accompanying booklet, the Edmund Welles quartet is hardly a somber experiment, calling forth honks, buzzes, beeps, hums, the stormy grind of a heavy-metal guitar, and the bluesy cry of a saxophone all from the clarinet’s throat. It surges in staccato bursts and slows to a vintage vibrato, demanding attention, irritating if left as mere background music. If there’s such a thing as in-your-face classical, this would be it, deft and tricky, nervy yet polite. Includes diverse and astute references to David Lynch, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Black Sabbath, and Spinal Tap.”

–Gothic Beauty Magazine, Issue 24

“The music itself matches the titles well, consistently out of kilter, full of disarmingly quirky juxtapositions and rhythmic surprises. Boots has an inventively playful take on his material, and the unforeseen turns that the music makes are both highly sophisticated and highly entertaining, even more fun than the program notes lead us to expect. For fans of new music and/or heavy metal, Boots\’ original voice is not to be missed.”


“Edmund Welles: the bass clarinet quartet, really is unique. Their intricate, classically arranged but sometimes rock-inflected clarinet music–BASS clarinet music–transports the listener into a special state of mind, where strange notions flower. It’s all fairly indescribable.”

–John Shirley’s Edge Trends Online Magazine