To fully appreciate the sheer, unbridled audacity of these four early works by Philip Glass, it is helpful, for a moment, to imagine that it's 1969 and you've never heard any of the composer's music before. Indeed, in 1969, it would have been unlikely that you'd heard anything like this before.
Through the decade of the 1990's, director John Singleton was known best, of course, for 1991's Boyz N the Hood, and his 2001 companion film Baby Boy is a similarly structured urban drama involving the disadvantages and trials of African American black men in urban settings. The film is once again a challenging look at the central themes that Singleton often raises in his projects, and while critics praised his ability to maintain a realistic perspective within the genre, many black audiences were less than pleased about the stereotypical portrayals of gang-tempted blacks in predictable and disappointing situations. Many viewers agreed, however, that Singleton's film presented far more questions than answers. An interesting answer to one question was David Arnold, whose hiring to write the music for the project was considered a curious move by the fans of the composer only familiar with his small body of soundtrack work. The British composer was widely recognized as the composer of several very large-scale orchestral film scores of the 1990's in America, and the last genre that came to mind when most fans thought of Arnold was rhythm & blues. And yet, Arnold's fans should never have been surprised that he could pull it off, because his ability to adapt his talents to several different genres, whether pop, electronica, jazz, or orchestral, is well established.
Epic. Stunning. Moving. Deep. Spectacular. Brilliant. Magical. Inspirational. Captivating. Masterful. Perfect. Those are just a handful of the words used by the media to describe the music of cinematic post-rock powerhouse Lights & Motion. The band's debut, Reanimation (released in January 2013), has been called "the greatest debut album in post-rock history" and "album of the year" by several critics. And believe you me, they're weren't lying. Now imagine having a sophomore full-length ready for release just several months later? Few artists would yearn to be standing in shoes that big, smothered in pressure, knee deep in expectation…
Italian ensemble Alter Ego have made their name playing the post-minimalism of composers as diverse as Louis Andriessen, David Lang and Frederic Rzewski. Now they turn their attention to pre-, or perhaps more accurately, prototype minimalism in this fine two-disc survey of early Philip Glass. Rejecting the seamless cross-stitching and salamander slither of Glass’s own ensemble, Alter Ego opt for a brassier and more strident approach. This strategy proposes a subtly alternative view about which the composer obviously approves – Orange Mountain Music is his own label.