Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music, John Luther Adams' Become Ocean is an expansive work, fitting for its immense subject, and one of the most powerful compositions by this American composer. The piece was premiered in 2013 by Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and recorded that year as a special surround-sound release on Cantaloupe. From the low, rumbling opening in the bass, through the surging waves of massed harmonies, arpeggios, and ostinatos, to the awe-inspiring fade-out, Become Ocean is more an experience to be absorbed, rather than orchestral music to be heard. Adams' stated point is that life on earth rose from the oceans, and with the melting of polar ice and rising sea levels, humans are facing the prospect of returning to the ocean. With that thought in mind, Become Ocean is an apocalyptic warning, and it makes little sense to analyze the music in the context of minimalism, spectralism, or other methods or techniques one might associate with it. Instead, it transcends conventional theory and demands an open mind and time to unfold on its own terms, so the wash of sonorities can create a calm, meditative state for receiving the composer's urgent message. The music is sustained for over 40 minutes, which may be too long for impatient listeners who think they got the idea in the first few minutes, but those who last to the end will feel the intended effect.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2