Blurring the boundaries between classical and popular music may not be much of a new idea anymore, but there are still artists who can make it sound fresh and exciting. Alarm Will Sound is one of them, and the ensemble's latest project represents a significant jump in ambition from its musically impressive but conceptually safe all-Reich debut. For Acoustica the group chose 13 compositions by the well-respected electronica artist Aphex Twin (aka Richard James) and re-created them as closely as possible using only acoustic and electric (as opposed to electronic) instruments -- violins, clarinets, celesta, oboe, trombone, electric guitar, etc. (Two compositions are featured twice, once in live performance and once in remixed versions by Berlin-based producer Dennis DeSantis.) While the arrangers' ability to re-create all of the melodic elements of James' complex compositions is impressive enough, even more so is the ability of the various drummers to replicate his speed-of-light breakbeats in a live setting. Most of the time, when you put popular music into a classical setting you just end up exposing the fact that beyond the bluster, there isn't much there there (remember the symphonic Metallica experiment?). With the music of Aphex Twin, just the opposite occurs -- you hear more clearly how much is going on in his strange and wonderful pieces, and it makes you want to go back to the original versions and listen to them again with new ears. Very highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson