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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin

Occasionally, arguments break out amongst 1337 music nerds about Richard D. James (AKA Aphex Twin) and his place in the musical canon. Boy genius, or just another knob twiddler? The next Mozart, or passionate, but forgettable electronic producer? Clearly he is more than your average drug-hazed dance music producer/dj, but will history place him within the ranks of the composer geniuses of years past? The issue has plenty more to debate left in it, but Alarm Will Sound just added a few arrows to the electronic music nerds' quiver:

Acoustica : Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin

Alarm Will Sound is a 20 piece orchestra that has made a name for itself by working closely with major contemporary composers such as Steve Reich in addition to doing non-traditional works. This year they released an album of Aphex Twin covers spanning most of his career from his early ambient works to his latest double CD album.

This work is successful on many levels. First, it hits you just how amazingly well transcribed and orchestrated it is. Every grind, crack, pop and whoop is in exactly the right place, with exactly the right rhythm, often with a timbre that perfectly replicates the original synthetic sound. Considering how obsessively Aphex fans listen to every little sound, you'd better get that right. Beyond that, this really good music, even if you aren't an Aphex Fan. It's gorgeous and warm, intricate and full of emotion. I've been going to the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players concerts regularly for a few years, and many of these performances would easily hold up in that setting.

Aphex Twin must be in love with this album.

Some clips from their site:

Logon Rock Witch
4
Fingerbib
Gwerly Mernans
Cliffs

(samples of the whole album)

More about Alarm Will Sound:
Alarm Will Sound is a 20-member band committed to innovative performances and recordings of today's music. Musical Artists-in-Residence at Dickinson College, they have established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic virtuosity. Their performances have been described as "equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity" by the London Financial Times and as "a triumph of ensemble playing" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times says Alarm Will Sound is "the future of classical music."

The versatility of Alarm Will Sound allows it to take on music from a wide variety of styles. Its repertoire ranges from European to American works, from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed these guys when they were in New York and charging $20 to get in the door. I did get some tracks from the record but only listened to the song titled 4. It sucks. Really, it's not good when compared to the original. Perhaps if it was not an acoustic reproduction of a purly digital piece it would stand out more but it is really weak. The drums don't push the beat like the original sequenced drums do. The phrasing is too human and loose to come close to the original. It feels like dancing about archetecture, makes no sense.

I would imagine the less sequenced beat-less pieces might sound better. Do they?

4:58 PM  
Blogger Vitriolix said...

interesting, '4' affected me quite differently. i thought it was gorgeous. my other favorite is "cliffs" from selected ambient II. to each his own i guess.

8:10 PM  

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