If I’m completely candid, the two large dinosaurs dominating the cover were what first attracted my attention to Travel Diary, a CD of works for percussion duo composed by Tristan Perich, Nathan Davis, David Lang, and Paul Lansky. Was there any way this album could end without someone being eaten alive?
While there have been many composers who have explored combining Western musical forms and orchestrations with elements from the art music of China, Japan, Iran, India, and Indonesia, very few have attempted a similar rapprochement with the music of Thailand. But the music of a Thailand-born composer now based in Kansas City, Narong Prangcharoen, has perhaps been the most effective thus far in seamlessly weaving Thai and Western classical idioms.
John Bischoff is a composer celebrated for his work at the cutting edge of live computer music, explorations that can be traced back all the way to the late 1970s and his experiments with his first KIM-1. Audio Combine, the recent New World Records release of Bischoff pieces spanning 2004-2011, is an undeniable reminder that, though his roots run deep, his music hasn’t been anchored.
Imaginary Islands, the latest entry in Bridge Records’ rather extensive Lansky discography, is composed expressly for and performed entirely by a symphony orchestra with no electronic elements whatsoever. Throughout his life, Lansky actually had composed for corporeal performers on acoustic instruments, or—as he jokingly describes them in his notes for the present CD—“carbon based life forms,” even though his reputation as a composer was established almost exclusively on the basis of his electronic music. Nevertheless, the three compositions collected on this new disc, all of which were composed within the last five years, chart a remarkable new compositional direction.