Artist: Philip Glass
Album: Visitors

Released: 3 September 2013
Label: Orange Mountain Music

Visitors Philip Glass
How is it that Philip Glass is categorized as a Minimalist when there is so much variety in his music? He is indeed part responsible for the founding of the genre - which in its infancy primarily emphasized the slow alteration of chord deconstruction. Glass plays one of the organs on Steve Reich's Four Organs/Phase Patterns (1970) LP, and with his own ensemble later released several albums featuring works of repetitive structures, notably among them Music in Twelve Parts (1974). In 1976 Glass worked with theatrical producer Robert Wilson to realize Einstein on the Beach (1979), a four act, five hour modern performance which forever changed the image of opera. With Glassworks (1982) and The Photographer (1983) Glass edged closer to the symphonic with near-mainstream music that attracted a larger audience as well as gained him an appearance in a Cutty Sark Scotch advert. Collaborating with visionary film director Godfrey Regio Glass composed some of the most distinctive soundtrack music in all of cinema for their documentaries Koyaanisqatsi (1983), Powaqaaysi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002). The music for Visitors (2013) marks their fourth film together. There are times when the score for Visitors has the quality of a private dispatch, like a secret the composer is murmuring in our ear. Part of the pleasure of this soundtrack is its contained scale, its hushed beauty and the deliberate sustaining atmosphere of its elegant orchestral arrangement. In contrast to the edgy feel of so many others of this realm, Visitors seems subtle, tactile and welcoming. Its churning string section demonstrates a circular process, a repeating cycle of notes that develops slowly - the patterns continuously changing form, though almost imperceptibly. The result is a somber and delicate journey atop restrained symphonic waves. Too classy to be called Spacemusic, and too complex to be labeled Ambient, the pieces from Visitors conjure a unique mood, something beyond their association with Regio's moving images - and feel as if their solitude has been drawn from some deep, unspoken place in Glass' own being.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   15 January 2014

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