recording, the first release on Gavin Bryars' GB Records (in spite
of its being numbered 02) is a work commissioned by the Merce
Cunningham Dance Studio. While music written to accompany performances
often seems lacking when heard in isolation, this disc stands
on its own quite well.
work is in six parts, with no intervening pauses, and has a dense,
foreboding sound. After an opening section where hope seems to
exist, and an aerian cello spins a melancholy tale, the music
weaves its way through clouds of angst and oppression. With its
waves of keyboard sound flowing behind Robert Frippish-style guitar
lines, the second section is powerfully despondent. The dark background
of keyboards flows throughout the section and deep percussion
third section brings in a wider variety of sounds, which float
in and out: single guitar notes, the occasional Glassian keyboard
riff; improvisational sounding music that builds slowly as the
different parts combine. Then the tone changes in the fourth section,
as the music becomes brighter, the violin takes the forefront,
and the sound is more like a string quartet. The music again becomes
sombre in the fifth section, with a loss of structure and a growing
dissonance. This ends, in the final section, on a dark, speculative
note, as it fades into nothingness.
it is hard to do justice to any such work with a simple description.
This disc is powerful and haunting, and the listener cannot but
be disturbed. But this almost Beckettian sound is not to the taste
of everyone, and I would recommend listening to some excerpts
if possible before taking the plunge. Bryars shows a great deal
of energy in this work, but this is not the kind of energy that
everyone wants to listen to.