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The Twilight of the Gods

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Album Review

Noah Creshevsky's albums for the Tzadik label are probably enjoying a higher profile than the rest of his output. Luckily, they happen to be his best ones, in terms of ideas, pace, and listenability. The Twilight of the Gods features eight works of what the composer calls "hyperrealist music" — music made from sounds found in the real world, reorganized into sequences that are humanly impossible to perform. It usually results in extremely active and intense music. However, this particular album sounds less hyperactive and is easier to listen to, which doesn't lessen its impact or its sheer power of wonder. The Twilight of the Gods is bookended by "band songs," for lack of a better phrase: "Götterdämmerung" features the klezmer music group the Klez Dispensers, while "Happy Ending" features a jazz quartet, Ray Marchica & Sons of Sound. Both bands have agreed to be extensively sampled by Creshevsky, who has then composed impossibly busy tracks while retaining some of the identity of the performers. One thinks of John Oswald's plunderphonics and Bob Ostertag's stunning sample workout Say No More. Between these two songs are six more works. "Omaggio" and "Estancia" use unidentified samples from the classical world (an orchestra in the first, a Spanish classical guitar in the second) and manage to blur the line between human performance and machine performance, although, on that front, "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" achieves even better results, its blending of orchestral and vocal sources producing a gripping 11-minute oratorio. Baritone singer Thomas Buckner provided samples for the short "Brother Tom," while Ellen Band did the same for "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," a surprisingly sedate though efficient work — and a welcome breather before the manic "Happy Ending" kicks in. The Twilight of the Gods will never be an easy listen, but Creshevsky's mastery of the sample, and his ability to see far and wide in his compositional architectures, are simply fascinating. And the fact that he does not alter his samples, using them simply as building blocks, makes it all the more impressive. ~ François Couture, Rovi

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The Twilight of the Gods, Noah Creshevsky
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