Philippine composer José Maceda (1917-2004) was trained in composition in the West, but the pieces recorded here have a raw power that seems to have little relationship to the European avant-garde that Maceda studied. Even Sujeichon, which is scored for four pianos, sounds far more Eastern than European because of a strongly modal harmonic language that relies heavily on fifths and octaves, the heterophonic relationship between the instruments, and the non-linear structure. Strata, a 20-minute piece for a large ensemble of bamboo buzzers, sticks, gongs, flutes, celli, and guitars has a distinctly non-western color because of its instrumentation and non-developmental musical architecture. It does have a cumulative effect similar to that of some types of minimalism because of its use of minimal materials, its repetitions, and its use of layering. It begins with the insect-like drone of nearly a dozen bamboo buzzers and builds to a powerful climax as the other choirs of instruments are folded in over it. Music for two pianos and four percussion groups combines attributes of the other two pieces, using a combination of Eastern and Western instruments with strong elements of repetition, limited pitch material, and layering. The University of the Philippines Contemporary Music Players and several ensembles recorded at Mills College play with conviction and concentration. Tzadik's sound is present, clean, and vibrant. The CD should be of strong interest to fans of non-European avant-garde.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins