Thursday, August 25, 2011

Philip Glass: Kepler (Review)

Have you ever thought that opera can be that exciting and moving? No, I don't mean moving on the wheelchair. I mean really moving and touching your saddened spirit. Beyond all descriptions is this feeling of movement that comes from the music and propagates down to your essence. I'd say this work is almost Sci-Fi in a way that it tries to engulf the whole universe with all it's choir parts, trombones and other orchestral instruments.

I'm telling you all that not only from the CD-point of view, but I have actually visited the premiere two years ago. I guess the most evident difference from other Glass works that I've heard is the greater use of drums. Choir is also very recognizable in this work. It plays major role, which I am happy about, because you don't really get as much choir parts in opera in general, with the exception of Carl Orf, of course and few others. It devours our former tastes and pulls all our aesthetic attention on itself and whether you like opera or not, you will like this seemingly plain form of muisic, i.e. choir. The use of multiple voices to create music was one of the earliest music forms that ever existed and were highly valued taken into a higher rank than other musical instruments, like drums and flutes, which were more suited for a tavern, rather than spiritual enlightenment, if take middle ages as an example.

On the other hand, the music is very recognizable and you can tell who is the composer from the first riffs, so to speak. When I was on premiere, I thought that he is repeating himself and he does repeat many tricks that he invented in his music long before; nevertheless, the beauty and greatness of this fine opera are so remarkable that soon you will excuse Mr. Glass.

What I love about it especially is the heat, the apocalyptic drive that intervenes here and there. The melodies are beautiful and touching. In some "rossini-puccini" operas, the music is just for decoration, like the dress you wear or posture, and liking is the matter of so-called intelligence and you can't really say you don't like it, or you have to make up some story that you like something in between "rossini-puccini"... Unlike that, Kepler takes opera to a whole different level, where you can actually love it, like it, immerse yourself into the ocean of feelings and not just be in the theater for postures and decoration, but rip your fancy dress or expensive suit off to be left naked, one on one, with the whole greatness of the universe, stars and everything else you can think of listening to this opera. 

If you don't like opera (like me), then try this one. This one is different.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Downfall Of Gaia & In The Hearts Of Emperors Split (Review)

There are different tags and labels exist to describe what is hidden under such a plain cover, but I believe that the true name for this music has not been created yet. Post-metal, neo-crust, atmospheric black metal, dark hardcore, all of which terms can be in this or the other way applied to this music. However, the existence of almost identical work by the Fall of Efrafa in the album Elil, defines not a mere tendency, but a fast-growing (to my pleasure) new genre of apocalyptic music that beautifully combines aforementioned music styles to produce something very up-to-date, modern and balanced. 

Song structure is pretty simple. On this album as well as mentioned album Elil, the songs begin by slow, acoustic guitar playing. The melodies are usually sound like soundtrack to 28 Days Later (I mean "East Hastings" by GY!BE), that is dramatic and on the edge of catastrophe. Though, the catastrophe and catharsis come suddenly, easily destructing unprepared mind with the wave of sound as thick and massive as Niagara Falls. This kind of interchange of very intensive course parts and relaxing, philosophic verse parts continues throughout the track. Vocals in Downfall Of Gaia part of the split sometimes sound more characteristic to traditional hardcore scream. Other times it is black metal or screamo vocals. Some riffs, and drums in the course parts resemble atmospheric black metal a lot, which is truly amusing. On the other hand, vocals coming from In The Hearts Of Emperors are less expressive and sound below the main wave of sound. Downfall Of Gaia are more elaborate and complex than Fall of Efrafa (album Elil). The first part of this split taken up by Downfall Of Gaia sounds pretty clean in general, unlike the second part by In The Hearts Of Emperors (name is like an allusion to Godspeed You! Black Emperor) sounds slightly less perfect in terms of the recording, especially vocals. 

It is also important (and characteristic of this style), that verse parts are sometimes accompanied by political, religious or philosophical critics and thinkers that proclaim their views on background. These views can be atheistic, left-winged, socialistic, conveying ideas of anti-globalization movement, anarchy or exaggerating the world situation in general by mentioning ignorance of governments or gigantic corporations, which don't seem to grow sympathetic of general population. Also, themes of ecology and nature somehow are bound in my mind to this kind of music. Wasting of world resources must have been mentioned somewhere along the track. Well, enough said about ideas. 

Overall, I think that it's an excellent style, which is not fully developed and musicians are in search of right tunes and scared to experiment with what Fall of Efrafa has found, though, didn't proceed.   It's funny in a way how even the names of these bands are similar. "Fall" and "Downfall", both Efrafa and Gaia appear to me like cities or states, so the similarity is pretty evident. But, this is insignificant when we concentrate on the perception of all greatness of this music. This split is worth having for the rest of your lives.  

Book of Sand: The Bees and the Butterflies (Review)

Book of Sand - is the experimental black metal band from Minneapolis, Minnesota, has shared their innovativeness in the new EP called The Bees and the Butterflies. Most obvious piece of experimentalism is in the introduction of almost each song, which begins by snugly iridescent sound of viola (or violin, though sounds a bit lower for violin, may be even cello). Classic string instruments are routinely used by metal bands, however, in this case, the sound and atmosphere is unique. Epic melodies on some of the songs are pleasantly familiar. No, not from the other black metal bands, but from some, may be European or American folk melody. They are sweetly melodic, which is joyful to hear. Another advantage of these melodies is that they differ from what you generally hear from typical black metal band. All in all, due to this zest, the atmosphere of the whole release is created and to me sounds like the folklore of the New World. Sound in general resembles more their first release. Foggy, noisy guitars, husky vocals, that sound a bit below other instruments. This work is a descent continuation of what Book of Sand has been doing so far and I hope there is more yet to come.