Bang on a Can

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Industry Review

by Stewart Mason

The first studio recording by the puckishly named instrumental ensemble Bang on a Can (technically, BOAC is actually the name of an annual avant-garde music festival curated by the group's founders) is that rarity, a piece of contemporary classical music that is neither pretentiously inaccessible nor a blatant attempt at reaching a mainstream audience. In keeping with the group's name and all-inclusive philosophy, the arrangements tend to favor hand percussion, with guitar, cello, reeds, and both electric and acoustic keyboards appearing as well. In comparison to the free-form nature of the three live anthologies that preceded this release, on which line-ups changed from track to track according to the composer's whim, Industry was recorded with a stable group. In keeping with the album's apparent attempt to introduce the concept to the mainstream classical audience, the surprisingly conservative play list of five tracks includes one piece each by the troupe's three founders, none of them particularly aggressive or "difficult," and two lengthy chamber pieces by the Dutch composer Louis Andriesson, a contemporary of Wim Mertens and other post-minimalist composers and theorists from the Netherlands whose fusion of Romantic sensibilities and post-modern playfulness is most in keeping with the group's own sensibilities. There's a certain sense that Industry is the avant-garde with training wheels, but the album's unapologetic accessibility is a large part of its charm.

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