Steve Reich-Daniel Variations

Steve Reich Daniel Variations:

A beautiful piece that transcends the term minimalism. Though the drones and repetition, of minimalism are present Reich toys with them adding subtle changes that eventually evolve into completely different patterns. Reich utilizes a fascinating harmonic language particularly during the first track. He uses dissonant chords to at times create tension, and at others to present beauty. One of Reich’s true strengths is his ability to weave seamless transitions that don’t feel forced or unnatural, and there are plenty of occurrences like that to be found on this album.  I can’t say enough about how rewarding of a listen this album truly is.

Rating: 15/15 tragic events spawning beautiful music

Kronos Quartet-Plays Sigur Ros

Kronos Quartet Plays Sigur Ros:

Its amazing how well stripping down these songs to four acoustic string instruments, and removing the vocals actually works. The music swells and retracts then changes course keeping one completely enamored and interested at what will happen next. One of the true highlights of this album comes when one or more instruments play the vocal melody. The phrasing is so beautiful and exact that I may even prefer it to the original vocal track. A great release, with a lot of incredibly emotive playing.

Rating 15/15 unpronounceable song titles

Altenberg Trio Wein-Polish Piano Trios

Altenberg Trio Wein Polish Piano Trios:

Wonderful and haunting performances of two fairly obscure Polish composers. The music is largely dark and dissonant, but in a way thats more likely to catch your interest than turn you off. The musicians are astoundingly tight, and obviously know the pieces extremely well. Great and rewarding for fans of Modern Classical.

Rating: 14/15

Terry Riley-Requiem for Adam

Terry Riley Requiem for Adam:

A piece performed largely by the Kronos Quartet. It features beautiful melodies and intelligently juxtaposed odd meters. Riley also lends some beautiful piano work. Overall mournful yet optimistic in mood, the only downside to this disk is the second movement where Riley uses samples of bells and metal percussion to create a big clanking mess, that sounds more than a little dated.

Rating: 13/15

Harry Partch-The Wayward

Harry Partch The Wayward:

Microtonal folk songs with lyrics Partch found various places while he was homeless, riding the rails during the Great Depression. Partch uses a 43 note scale, to craft strange folkish melodies horribly dissonant upon first listen, but beautiful once you become accustom to them. The lyrics portray hobo life during the depression, and being lifted from the script of actual hobo’s are extremely telling of the time period. Bizarre, but interesting listen, once you get accustomed to it.

Rating: 13/15 Home-made instruments

LaMonte Young-The Well Tuned Piano

LaMonte Young The Well Tuned Piano:

An ever-evolving drone oriented piece performed on a piano with a unique tuning influenced by Indian Ragas. If you ever have an afternoon to kill put on this five cd set or the more recently released DVDs and dissolve into the beautiful harmonies Young draws from his piano. Goes well with drugs.

Rating: 15/15 trance inducing harmonies

Glenn Branca-Hallucination City

Glenn Branca Hallucination City:

Branca explores frequencies not found in the western scale with a 100 piece electric guitar orchestra. Varies from the most gorgeous harmonies you’ll ever hear, to some of the scariest and back again. Really interesting listen, but some horribly dissonant noises don’t need to be held for that long.

Rating: 12/15 Theoretical Girls

Pendrecki-For The Victims of Hiroshima

Pendrecki For The Victims of Hiroshima:

Pendrecki effectively makes an orchestra sound like screams of horror, bombs, gunfire, and all things terrible. Genuinely scary music, and a fitting tribute to a terrible event in human history.

Rating: 13/15 nausea inducing chords