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Review: Glasscuts: Philip Glass Remixed
2.5 / 5 Stars
It has been a long time since Wendy Carlos introduced to the public to the fusion of classical music and electronica. The Moog music fad quickly faded, perhaps that explains the ability of the merger of these two genres to surprise and intrigue. However, musical experimentation didn\'t die just because it slipped below the gaze of the public eye. Philip Glass\' independent record label Orange Mountain brings us the fruits of one such effort: Glasscuts - Philip Glass: Remixed, a compilation of tracks from 12 Americans (USA, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Argetina) and one Australian. Glass\' compositional minimalism and predilection for simplicity and repetition make it an obvious source of inspiration for electronic producers and musicians; it is no surprise that Orange Mountain received unsolicited remixes of Glass\' compositions.
The notes for this CD say, "it has been said that Philip Glass is the \'Godfather of Trance\'". I don\'t doubt that someone somewhere said that, but the Godfather label usually gets applied to Klaus Schulze. The roots of techno are clearly in classical minimalism but Schoenberg and Satie were there long before Glass. That\'s all historical quibbling over a marketing point, however. This album features remixes of 13 Glass pieces, making him the clear Godfather of this album.
There is no real point of unification among the pieces. They come from a variety of Glass compositions: remixed etudes, excerpts from the "Akhnaten" opera, a saxophone concerto, and others. Throw in 13 different remix artists and a set of styles that cross-cut the entire electronic genre - downbeat to trance with a few stops in between (here\'s a Googled link that gives an overview of the sometimes bewildering number of electronic styles today: http://analogik.com/res_styles.asp), and you\'ve got yourself an album with enough diversity that anyone with a taste for electronic will find something that appeals.
Of course, the wide variety means there are likely to be tracks that do not appeal, as well. DJ ESP\'s "2nd Perception of Light, Moon, Mist and Rainbow" was little too flat and minimal for me. Dave Wesley\'s "Why Are We Here?" is similar but adds in enough variety and acoustic texture to keep me interested while listening. Kate Simko\'s "Houston Skyline" starts with some intriguing synthesized winds before layering in beats and strings. It is one the tracks that feels relatively close to the original source, many of the included tracks are closer to "remakes" than mere "remixes". This can be a bit of a mixed blessing as you have to contend with choosing between the novelty of a completely fresh interpretation and the loss of the fuzzy glow that nostalgic recognition provides.
I\'ve never been a huge fan of albums comprised of various artists; it is very hard to maintain the cohesion that a single artistic vision brings to a project. Glasscuts suffers from that flaw, but it is hard to hold that against it to any great degree: you know going in - 13 artists, 13 selections, a number of styles - that it is going to be an uneven ride with some hits and misses. As long as you approach it with a sense of exploration you are likely to find something that catches your eye.
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