Various Artists: Glass Cuts

According to the sleevenotes of this remix (or, more accurately, covers) project, Philip Glass is known as the “Godfather of Trance.” Not only was this title news to me, but it also displays a fundamental lack of understanding of Glass and his music. For while trance may use repetition as a means towards ecstatic release, Glass’s repetitive patterning is based on a different set of premises entirely. You can’t dance to it, for one thing. And while it’s entirely possible to derive a visceral thrill from Glass’s hypnotic arpeggios, it’s also important to keep in mind that his historical roots lie in the academic minimalism of ’60s art galleries, a world away from the dance floor.

This project is unfortunately hamstrung by licensing difficulties which meant that none of Glass’s major works for theatre or orchestra could be included. As a result, the pieces chosen come from the more obscure corners of his output. There are three piano études, three soundtrack excerpts, and two different versions of the same concerto. Highlights include a fiery interpretation of “Dance from Akhnaten” from project curator Don Christensen (as impLOG), on which Glass’s melodic pulse lurks dangerously beneath clattering beats. Dietrich Schönemann also impresses with the delicate tracery and sensuous percussion of “Thin Blue Line.”

Elsewhere, Kate Simko builds the momentum nicely on “Houston Skyline” with repetitive violin and touches of flute, while Hector Cassillo and Eduardo Larez bring unexpected textures to “Saxophone Concerto” with chunky guitar and a looming synth melody. Most other contributors attempt to overlay elements of trance, techno, hip-hop, and down-tempo onto Glass’s rigorously formal structures, and unsurprisingly come unstuck as a result.

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