In really simplistic terms, this is pianist Bruce Brubaker beautifully interpreting the music of Philip Glass with Max Cooper providing the electronics and atmospherics. However, there is nothing simplistic about this phenomenal album. What Bruce Brubaker provides is the core of the album, its heart. What Max Cooper brings is the atmosphere and the monster cinematic moments. These two worlds collide perfectly.
It’s based on music by Philip Glass, but it is a ‘re-invigoration, re- contextualisation, post-modernisation,’ explains Brubaker. ‘It’s not a re- mix, it’s a new set of clothes!’. The technical element Max Cooper brings is beyond me. Apparently, he has developed his own tool/system/software with Alexander Randon which takes live feeds from the piano and transforms them into new forms. I don’t understand it, but I don’t need to. The joy is for the listener.
The main pieces are linked by various Preludes (1-5). If Philip Glass is your thing then you’ll be aware of the music interpreted, in their ‘standard’ format. There are 2 stand out moments on the album. The meandering Two Pages and the 13 minute epic Mad Rush. When Mad Rush releases, it is one of those moments that’s makes you stop and listen and wait for the hairs on the back of your neck to settle down. That has happened on each of the dozen or so listens I’ve given this album. Metamorphosis 2 is subtly enhanced, but never to the detriment of the original. Less is more, but the impact is huge.
If there is a better album in 2020 I look forward to hearing it.
I’ve pre-ordered the vinyl for it’s release on July 3rd. Incidentally, our wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to me.
Thank you Gideon Coe. During mental health awareness week, Gideon Coe played Virginia Astley – ‘From Gardens Where We Feel Secure‘ (1983) in its entirety on his 6 Music ambient themed show. No interludes, no bantz, just as it was intended. If, like me, this album is new to you and you want a reference point, think The KLF ‘Chill Out’.
From Gardens is as British and summery as an album can get. It is split into 2 ‘movements’, Morning and Afternoon. It’s full of fabulous field recordings of church bells, sheep and owls to name a few. The field recordings act as transitions to the next flute or keyboard led tune. They continue on as loops in the background as the next piece starts. The whole thing forms as whimsicle masterpiece.
Many melodies sound familiar and create a feeling of nostalgia in this listener. I was humming the tunes as the album played out on 6 Music despite never having heard it. Immediate albums often loose interest fairly quickly. However, this is still going strong and I’ve no doubt will continue to.
I’ve played this a few times out on my lockdown walks in my local woodlands. It’s perfect for that. One of the benefits of lockdown is noticing nature more (when my headphones are not in). It’s inspired me to record more summer sounds. I’m currently collecting the many sounds of the blackbird for my end of year mix. Recorded from my garden where I’ve felt secure for the last few months.
If you want to purchase this you’ll have to shell out, as the CD is about £40. The vinyl seems mythical. It was reissued a few years later with the ‘Melt the Snow’ instrumentals. They’re enjoyable but they don’t enhance the core of the album. It’s not on Spotify, but thankfully YouTube has it hosted. Enjoy this.