is not the type of disc that one would necessarily put on for
casual entertainment. It takes a bit of effort to listen to
some of these pieces. None, however are unlistenable. For the
most part all the works here are interesting, atmospheric and
show considerable skill and originality.
documentarian in me however, must get this little problem off
his chest forthwith. The booklet notes for this release are
absolutely maddening in the lack of completeness. Birth-dates
are missing for four composers, and only one of said four had
the information listed on some website; thank you Google.
Only one of the works had a composition date, and anyone
who knows anything about writing program notes should know better
than to omit that kind of information. Most editors, including
our own fire back reviews to us poor writers when we leave it
off, and frankly, a reviewer should not have to waste time doing
internet searches for such basic information. There, I feel
much better now.
recital, consisting of music for percussion and piano opens
with Alex Shapiro’s wonderfully descriptive At the Abyss.
It is the longest work on the program, and is reflective
of the composer’s concerns for current social issues including
politics and ecology. Well constructed, and full of interesting
sounds, the work reminded me of some of the more creative film
scoring that I have heard. This is music that conjures images
in the mind, and the joy of it all is that those images will
vary from listener to listener.
Singleton, the most senior of the composers as far as I can
tell contributes the episodic and mysterious Greed Machine
for vibraphone and piano. Using both complex and simple
rhythmic and harmonic structures, this is a work of contrasts.
It keeps the listener on his toes. Some of the louder outbursts
can be a bit startling.
Mackey’s Busted makes use of an interesting juxtaposition
of random rhythmic figures and passages in seven to the bar.
The addition of the police whistle and the thought of the performer
breaking a drum head or two is what gave the work its name.
Reynolds’ Play is perhaps the most lyrical work on the
disc, its quasi-minimalist style and tuneful ambience being
nice aural relief after the thundery Mackey piece. Joseph Harchanko
is represented with Heavy Circles, inspired by the painting
of the same name by Wassily Kandinsky. Written for percussionist
Thomas Burritt, it is a virtuoso tour de force and is played
with great panache and aplomb.
disc closes with Wu Ji a work originally composed for
percussion and electronic tape, but later revised for the present
all, this is an enjoyable near-hour of music, and given that
we rarely get to hear works scored only for percussion ensemble,
is a treat. One can hope that some more adventuresome radio
programmers will get this music on the air from time to time.
Aside from the annoyances in the booklet production, Innova
have produced a fine sounding disc, never overbearingly loud,
and in the more ambient works there is a fine bloom to the sound.
are above reproach. This is fine, skilled and tasteful playing.
Highly recommended to both the adventuresome and the timid alike.
Take the plunge and check this one out.