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World Music CD Reviews New Age & Avant Garde

BANG ON A CAN

By Robert Kaye

Philip Glass
Cantaloupe Music

BANG ON A CAN
Bang on a Can Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing
Cantaloupe Music

Philip Glass's name is synonymous with minimalist music. Here, two compositions by Glass, "Music in 5ths" and "Two Pages," are performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars, with double bass, marimba, guitar, cello, clarinets and piano. The highly demanding score, originally written for keyboard, features additive and subtractive meters played on simplistic scale snippets. The harmony is fairly basic, unisons and Perfect 5ths, mostly. Despite those elementary factors, the score is exacting due to its perpetual motion and intentional redundancy. The latter may be a turnoff for some, with mini-motifs relentlessly cascading around and around. Yet, in the spirit of the album, one could espouse: Talented musicians. Six All-Stars. "Music in 5ths." "Two Pages." By Glass, Philip. Tight. Accomplished. Bang on! In contrast, recording for the very first time with Bang on Can, Burmese composer/percussionist Kyaw Kyaw Naing has created a striking album of classical world fusion. The eight compositions center around his emblematic Pat Waing, or Burmese Drum circle, consisting of numerous separately tuned drums, in this case, 21 in all. Usually played at a fairly rapid clip, here, Naing's drumming serves both as a counterpoint to and foundation for BOAC's (Western) instrumental accompaniment. Its typically expeditious melodic lines present a delightful challenge to listener and performer alike. Fans of Indonesian gamelan and/or Indian tabla tarang will undoubtedly pick this up pronto. Or in general, if you're looking for an album that will both mystify and groove, while manifesting breathtaking musicianship, you've found it.