Say what you will about postminimalist works, there are intriguing works being released these days. Evan Ziporyn, a member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, has created four accessible and compelling works on this CD. Frog’s Eye, while it maintains most of postminimalism’s characteristics—evenness of dynamics, steady pulse, and diatonic pitch—presents fascinating series of colors and percussive effects, even a bewitching stripe of dissonance halfway through. How’s the tiring speed? Slow.
Multiple listenings manage to reveal new details about these pieces, their directions, their meanings. One that I particularly love playing for guests is the colorful vocal work The Ornate Zither and the Nomad Flute. Sung luminously by soprano Anne Harley, this piece is built around two poems written more than a thousand years apart that deal with sensation, memory and musical effects. Ziporyn delights in inventive construction: There are detailed intervals of lush instrumentation between stanzas, including a long concluding instrumental. War Chant is, as you might guess, a disturbing but not quite jarring piece. Strings and brass build a mood of tension and anticipation, but rather than crash into disruption and chaos, the piece changes into an exploration of various rhythms. It’s actually about a short airplane ride, with the music eventually winding down in descent. Drill features Ziporyn on his bass clarinet with his lively motoric style. As soloist, he initiates each discrete section of the piece. The name comes from Ziporyn’s concept of a drill sergeant working his recruits, setting the course with them following him. This disc is a significant improvement over the earlier So Percussion. Like War Chant, it will take you on a thrilling and dazzling ride.
— Peter Bates