Bang on a Can

Gigantic Dancing Human Machine: Bang on a Can Plays Louis Andriessen

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Listening to Bang on a Can's all-Andriessen recording from 2002, Gigantic Dancing Human Machine, you can't help but move with the music -- not so much dancing or swaying as dodging and careening. Andriessen's edgy brand of post-minimalism thrives on rhythmic patterns that fishtail just as you're getting settled into them, or brash gestures that make no effort to hide their physicality. This is perhaps most apparent on the disc's first track, Worker's Union (1975), in a vibrant but polished live recording from 2002. The score supplies the players only with a series of rhythms to be realized by any instruments on any pitches. B.O.A.C. infuses these jagged, lurching figures with tense, disparate melodic contours and a gritty instrumental palette (the twangy electric guitar adds a particularly unexpected color). The disc also contains previously released recordings (Industry, 1994, Sony SK 66483) that pale only slightly in comparison to the energy of the live material: Hout (1991), which offsets unison lines against themselves to create unexpected composite patterns, and the modern classic Hoketus, from 1976, which gradually assembles a musical whole out of isolated, disparate elements in a kind of Frankenstein fashion. Indeed, this recording's title derives from Andriessen's description of the ideal performance of Hoketus: "a gigantic dancing machine humaine."

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