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Salt Lake Electric Ensemble - Phil Glass: Music With Changing Parts [Orange Moutain Music - 2018]

Here we have a recent rendition of the Philip Glassís Music With Changing Parts from this ten piece electronic ensemble. And boy is it a sonically thick, layer shifting, and sonically complex take on the piece- that comes  in somewhere between dense minimalism, meaty modern composition, and  rich Ďní cascading Berlin style electrionica.

Glass wrote Music With Changing Parts in 1971, and itís seen as both one of his important early compositions, and a major work in the progression of minimalism. The piece was written for a large group of players, and has over the years been by a selection of ensemble- utilizing different instrumental set-ups. The work normal runs around an hour, or just under.

The version to hand sees ten main players involved, with two additional players bringing on board long tones from guitar & voice. The ten pieces play a mix of laptops, keyboards, synths, tenor saxophone, bass guitars, flugelhorn, trumpet & guitar. The runtime of this version comes in at 45.38, so is on the shorter side- but I think this really gives the whole thing such a shifting & pulsing feel of urgency about it.

As the works title suggests the structure of this track is all about changing layers of sound- with most of the pieces sonic setting been extremely dense  mesh of instrumental textures weaved together into repetitive-yet- subtle shifting mass of sound. As a compositional form minimalism is often thick & locked down in itís feel, and this rendition really takes those tendencies to new head-spinning & entrancing heights.

Over the tracks runtime the layers of both electronic & acoustic instrumentation, move from cascading corridors, onto pulsing waves, through spiralling & splitting weaves of sound. As the minutes tick by new subtly different instrumental tones appear, then depart- but pretty much constantly, save for a few minutes, the whole thing just seems to grow & grow in both itís depth & urgency.

All told this is a truly invigorating & exhilarating  playing of one of the cornerstone works by Mr Glass. And due to both the use of electionic elements, and the whole cascading urgency of the whole thing I can see this appealing equally to fans of minimalism, drone, and general electronic composition.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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