Australian-born J.G. Thirlwell has made a name for himself in the United Kingdom and New York as a producer, composer, and performer primarily in the area of pop, but if anything could characterize his work, it is its versatility, so it's no surprise that he has found himself increasingly involved in the classical new music scene writing for groups like the Kronos Quartet and Bang On A Can. Manorexia is an experimental instrumental project he began in 2001, which has already resulted in two releases on own label, but this collection on Tzadik of his arrangements of tracks from the earlier albums is the first commercial release of the material. Thirlwell's ensemble includes string quartet, percussion, piano, and electronics. He writes idiomatically and engagingly for the instruments and draws impressively strange and distinctive timbres and colors from his ensemble. The music is inventively textural, and most pieces involve the use of ostinatos and overlapping lines and have a steady pulse. The tracks are varied in tone, style, and instrumental color, but the predominant mood is vaguely, or overtly ominous. The title, The Mesopelagic Waters, refers to a zone deep in the ocean that is too dark for photosynthesis and that is populated with fluorescent life forms, and the music is apt in conjuring up associations with the mystery of that alien world. This is imaginative and strongly appealing music, of the type that is characteristic of groups like the Kronos and Bang On A Can, and it should be of interest to fans of those ensembles. Tzadik's sound is clean, atmospheric, and almost spookily present.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins