"Grand Spiral" collects works written by avant-garde composer Chinary Ung between 1974 and 1990. At the album's center are two versions of Ung's lovely 1980 solo string piece "Khse Buon," an unhurried and metrically free work that features a sliding, glissando-heavy approach to pitch. And like, say, much Japanese shakuhachi music, it also sounds as if it was conceived as a single melodic line that should unfold without regard to chords or anything other than its own logic. The other works on "Grand Spiral" are written for more instruments, but they work in much the same way: nearly every instrument (or section, in the case of the concert band piece "Grand Spiral") plays in a lyrical manner, pushing and pulling against the other parts. Put in terms used to discuss traditional musical scores, most western classical music feels vertical; Ung's feels horizontal. This feature of Ung's work makes his music feel far more relaxed and meditative than most classical music, contemporary or otherwise.
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