Saturday, November 26, 2016

More Music for Catastrophes, or, Heart of Glass:

Friend-at-Work-Andrew and I talk a lot about music. It sure beats talking about work.

We have a lot of common interests, and when I told him about my delving into classical music via my World History Project, and Bach in particular, he pointed me in a couple of very fruitful directions.

But my favorite of his recommendations is more contemporary.

Like Phillip Glass, by way of our common admiration for Brian Eno. I’d already gone down the contemporary classical path with Terry Riley and Steve Reich.

Glass never had the obvious record to buy, other than the triple record Einstein at the Beach, which I was - of course - too cheap to try.

So Andrew pointed me to this record one instead:

Philip Glass: Glassworks (Expanded Edition) (1981)

One of the reasons I kept putting off getting something by Philip Glass is that the description adjectives I’ve read of his music were complimentary but alienating: repetitive/rhythmic/minimalistic. These are not the words that typically trigger my interest. I’m more of an emotional/melodic/joyful/suicide inducing kind of guy.

So, in finally relenting, I braced myself for something academic and dry, but instead got a very emotionally charged record.  Son Michael - a rock n' roller asked "What’s this?" while the very first song played.

We then go back and forth between what you’d expect based on the dry compliments above to unexpectedly lovely interludes.

By itself, I’d judge Glassworks about a B+, but what really puts it over in this expanded edition is the inclusion of selected cuts from In the Upper Room - a dance piece he did with Twyla Tharp back in 1983(?) - which turn out to be just as good as - and sometimes even better than - Glassworks itself.

And by “Dance II” we are taking off! And here is where I begin to notice that Glass isn’t above using pop-like minor chord changes, just enough to keep idiots like me focused.

So not only do I get to feel superior to people by listening to this kinda highbrow stuff, I get to actually enjoy it too!

And “Opening” is the perfect solace for these trying times.


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