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Neon (Manchester Collective)

Manchester Collective (Bedroom Community)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Eastman: Joy Boy; Hannah Peel: Neon; Lyra Pramuk: Quanta; Steve Reich: Double Sextet
Manchester Collective
Bedroom Community HVALUR43   48:47 mins

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Pioneering label Bedroom Community has worked wonders to bring contemporary classical music – composer Nico Muhly is among its founders – to the experimental, cross-genre realm that was born online at the turn of the century. Manchester Collective treads the same path: Neon follows
a ‘mix-tape’ programme, combining popular composers (Steve Reich) with newer ones (Lyra Pramuk; Hannah Peel) and those who are enjoying posthumous success as part of the zeitgeist to reinstate overlooked individuals (Julius Eastman).

In the album’s title track, a repeated rhythmic piano motif forms a dotted line along which related melodies are drawn. The flickering shapes evoke restless cityscapes. Peel weaves field recordings from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station into the instrumental cloth; these are heard in the final movement ‘Vanishing’, which combines intriguing timbres – contorted electronics, piano and strings. The piano ostinato is reminiscent of Reich – his Double Sextet is a natural companion. The 2007 piece can be played by 12 musicians or six playing against a recording of themselves; Manchester Collective opts for the latter, rendering the pointillist patterns with crisp accuracy. Quanta, like Neon, is a Manchester Collective commission. It uses
Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time as a dive board into a murky pool of sound: free-flowing strings are contrasted with chiming percussion and bird-like woodwind. There is joy to the melee; this polyrhythmic freedom is quietly euphoric – and the very antithesis of the ticking grandfather clock that opens the piece. Julius Eastman’s vibrating Joy Boy is a delightful addition to this release.

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Claire Jackson