Of course only the best remixers are good enough to lay hands on legendary composer Philip Glass’ work. Amon Tobin, Beck, Dan Deacon, Cornelius and Nosaj Thing are among them, celebrating his 75th birthday with a remix sampler of the diverse music Glass has created in this long career. Among them are film scores, musicals, solo tracks and the larger pieces he wrote for the Philip Glass Ensemble. It is challenging, but grateful material, minimal and complex in its raw state, and every remixer left his mark on the track he handled. The album will be released via Kora Records on October 23rd and is now streaming at NPR. It is worth a thorough listen.
The compilation runs its 80+ mins, which has its external reason in Glass’ extensive work corpus, but also in the fact that Beck’s contribution “NYC 73-78” alone has 20 mins of runtime. Beck is not only contributor, but the whole album was his and Glass’ idea in the first place, and his remix can be seen as the centerpiece of the album. I have to admit that I don’t know Philip Glass’ work well, so I can only comment on the remix and not on who is to what extent responsible for the end result, but the remix is several different tracks in one, moving and shifting all the time.
Not only this piece holds the disparate remixes together, but Glass’ source material does its part too. The thoughtful, sophisticated hand of the composer shines through the reworked tracks all the time, and so it rarely feels like it could have when twelve different people from all over the world work on something parallel. And the artists really are from all over the world: Japan, Germany, Brazil, Iceland and the US. But then again, Glass has changed his style over the decades, from classical to minimalist to dramatic, and incorporated diverse influences from all over the world, so I guess it wasn’t too hard for everyone to find a point of access he could feel comfortable with.
The exact number of 12 tracks on the album may be a reminiscence to Glass’ “Music in 12 Parts”, with My Great Ghost’s remix of the first part opening the compilation, but who am I to say. I can’t present any more tracks than the one above, as no others have been uploaded on soundcloud. You will have to go over to NPR to listen to the whole album – and when you do, make sure you don’t miss Pantha Du Prince’s piece, as it is my favorite track on the whole thing. “Mad Rush” is supposed to be Glass’ return to more traditional music, and it is very accessible in the remix, too.
There is supposed to be an app released along with the album, which makes sense if you think of Beck’s recent contribution to Sony’s “Sound Shapes” music game and his involvement in the making of this album. But the Philip Glass remixes presented here honestly don’t need extra visuals, they are exciting all on their own.