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Friday, July 3, 2015

Bang On A Can All-Stars, Field Recordings

The premise behind the Bang On A Can All-Stars album Field Recording (Cantaloupe CD & DVD) was simple. Each composer commissioned for the project was asked to select a pre-existing recording or create one anew and utilize it as a sort of found object to compose music around. The original tape and its permutations are played back and performed against by the Bang on a Can chamber ensemble according to the respective score the composer created.

The premises are simple but the music is far-ranging and very inventive. Source sounds vary widely, from traditional Irish folk singing to street singing, from John Cage reading from his diaries to gospel preaching, electro-acoustic sounds and much else as well. Each in its own way is a gem.

So we get works by Julia Wolfe, Florent Ghys, Michael Gordon, Christian Marclay, David Lang, Tyondal Braxton, Johann Johannsson, Todd Reynolds, Steve Reich, Bryce Dessner, Mira Calix and Anna Clyne.

The music draws from modern and postmodern, quasi-rock and folk modes with the panache and elan you expect from Bang On A Can adventures. A good deal of funding from listeners and institutions went into making this project a reality, and a good thing it is. There is an accompanying DVD with several of the compositions and visual elements. I was not able to watch it but I imagine it enhances the package.

Either way this is music of differences, inspired and played with grace and thrust by the All Stars.

Very highly recommended.

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