Published on November 1, 2023 by Guy Rickards | Share this post!
“Stunning playing of five riveting new compositions, captured in stunning sound.”
“This immensely enjoyable album from the prodigiously gifted quartet Third Coast Percussion ticks all my boxes.”
“…[the] works embrace the sonic possibilities of percussion in remarkably varied ways, making this a continually intriguing listen…”
I think I must be predisposed genetically towards music for percussion (hopefully in my next life I am fated to be a xylophonist!) but I have always loved the sound of drums, of mallet and clashed instruments. This immensely enjoyable album from the prodigiously gifted quartet Third Coast Percussion ticks all my boxes.
I reviewed an earlier release of theirs, ‘Perpetulum’ (Orange Mountain Music, 6/19) and found it hugely enjoyable. As then, the best-known composer – Missy Mazzoli here, Philip Glass previously – does not necessarily provide the most compelling work, not that Mazzoli’s Millennium Canticles (2022) is anything less than absorbing. The concept is a group of survivors of some unspecified catastrophe and their mechanisms for coping. Thus, ‘The Doubter’s Litany’ is succeeded by ‘Bloodied Bells’ (the most compelling movement) and ‘Choir of the Holy Locusts’, topped and tailed by ‘Famous Disaster Psalm’ and ‘Survival Psalm’. The suite is a kaleidoscope of instrumental and vocal techniques, including some of the most menacing counting by performers one is likely to encounter.
The other four works embrace the sonic possibilities of percussion in remarkably varied ways, making this a continually intriguing listen, nowhere more so than in the group improvisation In Practice (2022). Starting as a random ‘sound meditation’ and then ‘warm-up routine’, the quartet conjure magically an enchanting diptych of equal musical and expressive interest. Tyondai Braxton’s Sunny X (2022), one of several works to use electronics, also starts as a set of meditations but rapidly moves into more elemental, drum-driven territory – to my mind the most exciting work on the album. However, Ayanna Woods’s Triple Point (2017) is different again, musing on the brief state where a given element can exist simultaneously as a gas, a solid and a liquid. Finally, Gemma Peacocke’s Death Wish (2017) is another beguilingly euphonious study for two marimbas (two players per instrument) inspired by the Maori artist and visionary, the late Hinewirangi Kohu-Morgan, who died in February this year.
Stunning playing of five riveting new compositions, captured in stunning sound. Yes, there are some abrasive textures along the way, but really, what’s not to like? Buy it, listen, and enjoy.