Evelyn Glennie

Shadow Behind the Iron Sun

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Recorded in 1999, Evelyn Glennie's improvised album Shadow Behind the Iron Sun was a collaborative effort between the virtuoso percussionist and her producer Michael H. Brauer. The fantastic movement titles were taken from chapters in Michael Crichton's novel Eaters of the Dead, which Brauer read and shared with Glennie as a way to organize her otherwise non-programmatic improvisations. Glennie is brilliant in her manipulation of traditional and nontraditional instruments -- note the ceramic bells, exhaust pipes, music boxes, toy rattles, etc. -- and her ominous and strange effects suggest a long journey to mysterious astral realms. While Glennie's work is astonishing in itself and seems sufficient on its own strength to retain interest, other material has been added to her solo performances; the piano part, bird sounds, wordless vocals, and additional percussion licks provided by David Motion, Oliver Walker, Philip Smith, and David Hobson work against Glennie's raw sound; distract from her wild, spontaneous activity; and make the album seem overproduced. If Glennie intended to carry the album solely on her extraordinary abilities and imagination, and only needed her producer's advice to shape the material, then Brauer has been unfaithful to her goals; his trite overlays clutter her music and make the album seem uncomfortably like a free-form art rock extravaganza. RCA's sound is exceptional.

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