Glass Cuts: Philip Glass Remixed

Philip Glass

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Glass Cuts: Philip Glass Remixed Review

by James Manheim

The influence of minimalist composition on the popular dance genres known collectively as electronica has been much talked about but rarely concretely demonstrated. Glass Cuts: Philip Glass Remixed joins a short list of other electronic tracks based on the music of Philip Glass, who this album tells us is known as the Godfather of Trance. Part of the reason the list isn't longer is that obtaining permission to use Glass' music in large chunks has been difficult, but since the Orange Mountain Music label had itself released a number of Glass recordings, the problem didn't come up in this case. Glass Cuts originated, writes OMM's Dan Christensen in the liner notes, when the company "started receiving some unsolicited remixes of Philip Glass works from young producer/musicians."

These "producer/musicians" (the pop world is still struggling to define the musicianship of the producer) come from many different countries, a surprising proportion of them South American. It's hard to make blanket statements about them, but in general buyers should know that this is an electronica album using passages of music by Philip Glass as source material, rather than an album of music by Glass with enhancements from electronic musicians. Most tracks use a single idea from a Glass piece, manipulating it and adding a bass-heavy rhythm track; a few, such as Argentine remixer Sebastián Escofet in his reimagining of the Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, deliver treatments of more extended excerpts.

With this caution out of the way, the album can be recommended to those interested in minimalism and its reach into the popular sphere. With its consistency of basic musical material, the album offers a good introduction to what remixers do; there are two tracks based on Glass' Saxophone Concerto, and sampling these ought to reveal to the potential buyer whether he or she would find the rest of the album interesting. If the answer is yes, the album gives you a lot more to think about, including the relative importance of Glass and Steve Reich to electronica producers. Reich's strong focus on texture has perhaps directly influenced techniques of sound synthesis, while Glass may have been prized more for the high-tech sheen of his music and for its smoothly hypnotic quality.

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