COMPOSERS: Bang on a Can
WORKS: Lick; Hout; Hoketus; The Anvil Chorus; Industry
PERFORMER: Bang on a Can All-Stars
CATALOGUE NO: SK 66483 DDD
For all the hype surrounding the US group Bang on a Can All-Stars, its first disc is a disappointment. In the concert hall, whether you care for the music it plays or not, the virtuosity of this group is breathtaking. But the problem is one of definition, something it defiantly opposes, as a group born out of a reaction to the tight boundaries of ‘uptown’ and ‘downtown’ New York new music.
Wishing to harness the sound (and the audience) for rock ’n’ roll, funk, etc, the amplified volume, an essential ingredient for the impact of its music, verges on the unbearable. Curious, then, that this recording is undermined by poor sound. Both Andriessen’s Hout (its first recording) and Hoketus demand absolute clarity and edge to give this driving, rhythmic music its percussive bite.
Lack of definition in too resonant a sound balance and a narrowness of dynamic range seriously weakens the effect. With the exception of Michael Gordon’s harrowing but intriguing Industry for amplified solo cello, works by Bang on a Can directors David Lang and Julia Wolfe demonstrate all too clearly the genius of Andriessen. Annette Morreau