Bang On A Can
Bang On A Can’s been uptown, downtown, around the world (Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April – be there or be home). They’ve also been on major labels but now they have their own, Cantaloupe. On this first relase, are the Bang On A Can All Stars performing works by Julia Wolf, Arnold Dreyblatt, Michael Gordon, Glenn Branca and Phil Klein.
Julia Wolf’s composition Believing starts out with a tambourine violin and cello trio rhythmically pumping along. Eventually joined by the rest of the group, everybody gets some sort of solo. I’d call this minimalism except there’s too many little events and dynamic explosions. Continuing with this rhythmic drive is Arnold Dreyblatt’s Elevator. One of Dreyblatt’s interests as a composer is the harmonic series and the stringed instruments are bowed to bring out the harmonics. According to composer, the piece is based on transcriptions of malfunctioning elevators on the Blvd. Ansbach, Brussels.
I Buried Paul by Michael Gordon uses the end section of Strawberry Fields For Ever by the Beatles as a source of material. The incessantly trippy drums, tamboura, guitar, cello, a sample of a mellotron flute (in it’s self a sample) and other strange unrecognizable sounds float by in a psychedelic haze. I Buried Paul is the most interesting piece I’ve heard from Michael Gordon yet.
Glenn Branca’s Movement Within is performed here on his unique microtonal guitars and keyboards. Some might find the tuning unsettling, but Branca’s one of the brave composers who go after this territory. Undulating sliding tones create strange harmony and suggest alien planets covered with new found species – I don’t think I’ve been here before! In a lighter vein is Exquisite Corpses by Phil Klein with a chamber music/progrock vibe. Check it out.
post y2k, 2000
Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter