May 31, 2019
by James Manheim
“…breaks new ground in several respects…”
“The entire album is absorbing and often fun”
This release from Third Coast Percussion, on Philip Glass‘ Orange Mountain Music label, breaks new ground in several respects, which is no mean feat for its seemingly indestructible, octogenarian principal. The big news is that Glass himself, after all these years, contributes Perpetulum, a piece for percussion ensemble that is apparently his first one ever. This may seem strange for a composer for whom the rhythmic element has always been prominent, but here the relationship between rhythm and tonality is different, and the ensemble seems to draw forth a new kind of humor from Glass. It’s delightful; sample the first movement, and you may well be entranced. The other new development here, is that Glass has reached what might be termed a second generation of influence; the rest of the music on the album, some of it by members of Third Coast Percussion, reflects the work of composers who have taken Glass’ ideas, and developed them in new directions. The standout is David Skidmore‘s Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities, which takes up the first CD, consisting of seven movements with amusing titles. Each one explores a different texture and rhythmic configuration. Gavin Bryars‘ The Other Side of the River, which closes the program, is a minimalist work with large sectional contrasts. Peter Martin and Robert Dillon each contribute a shorter piece, with titles that indicate their structural procedures. The entire album is absorbing and often fun, and never dull. Highly recommended for those interested in minimalism.