The Four Towers/Heygar og Dreygar

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The Four Towers was composed as a jazz suite for the National Ballet in Reykjavik in 1985, and it was performed that same year by the Icelandic group Yggdrasil under Kristian Black's direction. It is made up of five pieces, the four towers are each scored for three movements and the final work, "Child's Drawing," is a study on a tone poem. The music is largely laid-back, almost jazz fusion groove jazz in places, but the compositions themselves are so sophisticated in their sense of unfolding drama and color, it's impossible to write them off that way. What comes across to a listener unfamiliar with the text (there is an explanation of Black's interpretation on the inner sleeve,) is a beautifully ambient jazz that could have been made by Soft Machine in their Fourth-Sixth era in a laid-back moment. Pretty, but far from boring, Black is a composer whose reliance on the concept is what gets him through the compositional day. As for Yggdrasil, it would have been nicer if Hopper, Dean, and company had performed this work since it seems so perfectly written for them.

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