March 27, 2019
by Joshua Kosman
It took until he was past 80, with many decades’ worth of rhythmic, intricately patterned music under his belt, for Philip Glass to write a piece for percussion ensemble. Now he’s done it, and the result – a spangly, delightful concoction called “Perpetulum” – is the centerpiece of an alluring two-disc release by Third Coast Percussion, for which it was written. (The group will perform this and other works in Herbst Theatre on Wednesday, April 3.)
Naturally, “Perpetulum” bears many of the familiar Glassian harmonic and formal thumbprints, but there’s also a spirit of pop playfulness in the writing that sounds strikingly new.
Along with “Perpetulum” (and an undercooked opus by Gavin Bryars) come sharp-edged and inventive compositions by three of the group’s four members, including Peter Martin’s buoyant “Bend” and Robert Dillon’s wittily authoritarian “Ordering-Instincts.” Perhaps most riveting of all is “Aliens With Extraordinary Abilities,” a manic suite of shape-shifting character sketches by David Skidmore that takes up all of one disc to splendid effect.