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Minimal Music - Released August 22, 1989 | Sony Classical

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Mention "minimalism" and certain names will pop up, both within and outside of the classical world: Terry Riley, Steve Reich, John Adams. The most famous one, however, would be Philip Glass. Unlike most 20th Century composers, Glass has reached far beyond the concert hall: his work includes film soundtracks (THE TRUMAN SHOW, THE THIN BLUE LINE), multimedia presentations ('1000 Airplanes on the Roof"), and collaborations with pop/rock writers/performers (his SONGS FOR LIQUID DAYS album). With SOLO PIANO, Glass presents himself "unplugged" - no electronic keyboards or synthesizers, and no overdubs, either - just solo piano. Here, Glass' connection to the established "classical" tradition is most evident. Though his pieces are "minimal" (subtly altered repeated patterns or melodic motifs), yet they have an unsentimental beauty and heartfelt grace that one would hear in J.S. Bach's English Suites, as well as the piano music of Chopin and Erik Satie. Portions of the suite 'Metamorphosis' are based on Glass' score for THE THIN BLUE LINE; these short pieces are forlornly entrancing without being drippy or "trance-like." The finale, 'Wichita Sutra Vortex,' is a uniquely and quintessentially "American" piece. It draws upon gospel music in the same way Ives and Copland drew from the well of American folk tunes, but where those composers worked in ironic portions or references to the tunes, Glass absorbs the deep feeling and tones of gospel, without recalling any particular song. Both Glass fans and minimalist neophytes should hear this. © TiVo
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Minimal Music - Released September 29, 2003 | Sony Classical

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Experimental - Released June 7, 2019 | Bella Union

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Experimental - Released January 15, 1980 | Crammed Discs

Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
The late '70s were a heady time in European progressive rock circles. Chris Cutler, drummer of the leading group Henry Cow and unrepentant leftist seeking to distance himself from both major-label and American rock influences, found similarly minded groups in France, Sweden, Belgium, and Italy, and brought them together for a British tour under the banner of Rock in Opposition (RIO). New musical influences and adventures gave rise to more short-term formations for Cutler and Fred Frith (Cow's guitarist), including this venture with a Belgian duo, Aksak Maboul, comprised at the time of Marc Hollander and Vincent Kenis. This group had recorded an album in 1977, Onze Danses Pour Combattre le Migraine, which became a cult album in its own right. As Aksak toured, their paths crossed with the various RIO groups, which led to this album in 1980. Cutler and Frith brought a solid rhythm section, but ready to make terrific noise when appropriate (as on the backing tracks of "Inoculating Rabies"). Michel Berckmans, wind player from Univers Zero (one of the Belgian RIO groups), and Hollander were the wind and reed section. Frank Wuyts and Denis Van Hecke rounded out the group on keyboards and strings. Stylistically, the album is all over the board. For example, the opening track, featuring Catherine Jauniaux on vocals, launches into a twisted blues number, with the singer freely improvising and trading licks with Van Hecke's cello and Hollander's sax. The second part of "A Modern Lesson" features extremely intricate horn writing, with different players rapidly trading different elements of the lines. "I Viaggi" uses a Middle Eastern scale, with cello and voice doubling the melody line. "Palmiersen Pots" is a classical piece for string trio, followed by a tango composed from several popular pieces cut up with scissors and reassembled at random. The album culminates with a long suite (originally all of side two on the vinyl release) based on a shorter arpeggiated figure, composed sections alternating with solos on bass, cello, electric cello, and synthesizer. On top of all of the great musicianship, Frith and lead engineer Etienne Conod performed significant studio wizardry after the sessions. "A Modern Lesson" contains sounds from a pinball machine as well as bits from every other track (and this is well before the age of samplers). The lead bassoon/oboe lines of "Inoculating Rabies" would be inaudible over the guitar and percussion noise in a live situation, but the contrast makes the piece. The CD reissue includes a track by a later Hollander/Kenis group, which unfortunately only magnifies the greatness of this Aksak Maboul lineup and this album, which remains a pinnacle of the RIO movement. © Caleb Deupree /TiVo
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Experimental - Released January 27, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Experimental - Released December 18, 2019 | Horus Music Limited

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Minimal Music - Released January 13, 2012 | Sony Classical

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Experimental - Released August 18, 2020 | Holetone Media

Experimental - Released September 5, 2018 | Horus Music Limited

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Experimental - Released February 19, 2019 | Horus Music Limited

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Experimental - Released March 20, 2019 | Horus Music Limited

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Experimental - Released October 21, 2020 | LuckyMe

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Experimental - Released August 23, 2019 | Bella Union

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Experimental - Released September 11, 2020 | RVNG Intl.

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Experimental - Released April 30, 2021 | Mute

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The Mute label launched a Telex reissue campaign in April 2021 with this sampling from the Belgian electro-pop trio's catalog and archive. It's non-definitive, starting and finishing with previously unreleased (if characteristically fun and frivolous) versions of Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On" and the Beatles' "Dear Prudence," and excluding some high points, such as the fantastic "Brainwash." Just as Telex delighted in monkeying with pop history, they have never been precious about their own past, game to remix themselves and have their work remixed by other producers. That ideology continues on This Is Telex, with surviving members Dan Lacksman and Michael Moers (the brilliant Marc Moulin died in 2008) supplying a new mix of each selection. The tracks, however, are often simply leaner than the originals, the changes likely imperceptible to listeners revisiting the material for the first time in a while. Spanning the group's first single to their last album, from a bopping update of early French rock & roll tune "Twist à Saint-Tropez" to a low-throbbing take on Sparks' "The Number One Song in Heaven," it makes for an appealing introduction that spurs greater curiosity instead of satisfying it (i.e., its intent). The mix of originals and remakes is fairly balanced. "Moskow Diskow," essentially a merry and supercharged spin on Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express," is in its rightful prominent place. Also included is the group's next U.S. club chart placement, "Euro-vision" (their 1980 entry in the like-named contest), the daffy "L'amour Toujours," and a comically rigid "Dance to the Music" that swaps out the celebratory spirit of Sly & the Family Stone's original version for ulterior menace. Although "Brainwash" is missed, among the included are two other tart tunes off Sex, a 1981 album for which Sparks' Mael brothers supplied all the lyrics. For Telex, there is no better home than Mute. Daniel Miller launched the label in 1978, the year Telex debuted, and established it with projects such as his own Silicon Teens, another mischievous act of pop-revisionist futurism. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Experimental - Released October 9, 2020 | Western Vinyl

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Minimal Music - Released June 4, 2021 | La Dolce Volta

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Minimal Music - Released August 22, 1989 | Sony Classical

Philip Glass' 1987 album Songs from the Trilogy is made up of brief selections from his three portrait operas, Einstein on the Beach (1976), Satyagraha (1980), and Akhnaten (1983). It gives a good idea of what the music from the operas sounds like, but at the same time it misrepresents what the music is actually about. In developing his "music with repetitive structures" (the description he preferred over "minimalism"), Glass was creating a new kind of experience, one in which the traditional temporal expectations of a piece of music are overturned, where changes happen incrementally and very slowly over a long (sometimes a very long) span of time. A common response to his work, particularly his earlier pieces, including Einstein, was boredom followed by a visceral jolt when the listener was suddenly hit by the power of the gradually evolving changes. The snippets on this album convey the sound of Glass' music, but their brevity rules out the possibility of their having the impact the composer intended. "Trial-Prison" from Einstein on the Beach, for instance, is cut from 18 minutes to three, and most of the excerpts from Satyagraha and Akhnaten suffer a same fate, shortened to a third to a half of their original length. Still, the album is not without its merits. The gripping performances are by the Philip Glass Ensemble in Einstein, and in the case of Satyagraha and Akhnaten, taken from the original cast albums. Tenor Douglas Perry is a standout in the role of Gandhi in Satyagraha; his tone is sweet and fresh and his delivery achingly poignant. Soprano Iris Hiskey's crystalline, wordless vocalise in "Bed" from Einstein is eerily mesmerizing. In all the operas, Sony's sound is exemplary. The album may not offer much of a real sense of what the operas are like, but if it whets listeners' appetites to seek out the complete recordings it will have served a worthy purpose. © Stephen Eddins /TiVo
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Experimental - Released March 17, 2017 | INVADA Records

On paper alone, Bosnian-born Swiss artist Mario Batkovic's self-titled record sounds like a curious project. It's essentially a solo accordion effort from a classically trained musician that has found its release through Geoff Barrow's (Portishead, Beak>) Invada label. The meeting of a very forward-facing modern artist's label with the traditional instrumentation of Batkovic's music might seem incongruous. But just as Barrow was so taken with the accordionist's music on hearing him live that it led to inviting him to support Beak> on tour, listening to this record usurps whatever preconceived notions you may have. Batkovic has dragged what may be perceived as an old-fashioned instrument gloriously into the 21st century. Opener and lead single "Quatere" hints at, but doesn't fully reveal, the extent of Batkovic's exploration of what his chosen instrument can do. Although it's a display of virtuoso playing, it sounds more familiarly like an accordion piece, albeit an extraordinary one. The further you delve into this self-titled record, the more Batkovic manipulates the instrument to make the most unexpected sounds. The urgently paced "Restrictus" builds to a brief section where his accordion appears to be producing an '80s computer game soundtrack -- quite a feat when working with this modest tool. Similarly, "Semper"'s church organ-like beginning is developed into a multitude of layers that often resembles modular synth sounds, and "Machina"'s bright, lively, and animated arc follows the rhythms of a dance track. Each composition covers a huge amount of ground, not least the heroic "Ineunte," which lies at the heart of the record. Over the nearly 13-minute running time, it negotiates maximalist frenzies and minimalist breaks on its epic journey. The steady, then eventually frantic build does all it can to get the blood pumping, and it succeeds admirably. His experiments echo artists like Colin Stetson and Lubomyr Melnyk, if only in the dedication to solo instrumentation, with staggering breadth. But much like those two artists avoid making their own music purely technical and cerebral experiments, Batkovic has infused this work with solid emotional weight. Technically, this record is a marvel, but it's also consistently stirring, as on "Desiderii Patriae," which hauntingly plays out like a ghostly lament, where transient notes drift in and out. On "Eloquens," his higher notes create a vibrato that feeds into the drama of the piece, and "Gravis" opens out into the record's most melodically evocative moment. To listen to Batkovic's record is to realize what Barrow must have done on first discovering his music: that his forward-facing approach to an unfashionable instrument is less incongruous than it is wonderful. He has made a highly accessible, yet uniquely singular work, whose reach is far greater in scope than the sum of its parts. © Bekki Bemrose /TiVo
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Experimental - Released May 14, 2021 | Valley of Search

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