Album Remarks & Appraisals:
It Is Time marshals the virtuosity of the individual members of So Percussion to speed, slow, warp, celebrate and mourn our perceptions of time. Each of the four sections of the piece is a mini-concerto for one of the players. First Eric Beach leads the music in a multi-percussion set up composed of metronome with delay, pump organ, bells, china cymbal on hi-hat stand and a few other assorted toys. Josh Quillen follows on steel drums, Adam Sliwinski on marimba, and Jason Treuting on drumset.
The piece also represents our subjective experience of the passage of time and of aging. Says Mackey, "I felt saddened by the immutability of time and the finite limits to how much of It I will be able to spend. It Is Time fantasizes that we might have agency with respect to time."
"...a beguiling four-movement sequence of mechanical clatter, luminous drones, relaxed jazz-rock grooves and chaotic beats reminiscent of Captain Beefheart's highly regimented art-rock chaos." - NY Times
... plenty of formidably scored ensemble interactions. The piece has a diverse instrumentation, employing found objects, traditional instruments, metronomes, and more exotic components such as steel drums.
As excellent as the audio experience of the CD is, the DVD that's included is even more fun. The set should be of strong interest to any fans of new music or music for percussion ensemble.
Audio Mixer: Lawson White.
Liner Note Author: Steve Mackey .
Recording information: Guilford Sound.
Photographer: Janette Beckman.
Steve Mackey is a composer who can be counted on to produce music that crosses genres without inhibition and that's immediately appealing, and So Percussion's performances are consistently imaginative in choice of repertoire and eagerness to stretch the parameters of traditional concert music. The result of the collaboration, It Is Time, is everything this combination of talents promises to be: a dynamic and unconventional but thoroughly engaging new work that doesn't sound quite like anything else. The piece is in four movements (plus a brief epilogue) -- "Metronome," "Steel Drums," "Marimba," "Drums" -- each featuring one of the quartet's players, although the movements are unified by considerable timbral and rhythmic and motivic overlap. Mackey creates an intricate layering of textures using both precisely notated rhythms and pitches performed by the players, and mechanical devices that produce rhythms independent of the live performers, such as old-fashioned wooden pendulum metronomes (the first sound of the piece is the mechanical winding up of a metronome), kitchen egg-timers, and Newton's cradles (the swinging-ball desk toys commonly known as "executive ball clickers"). The effect is fascinating, unpredictable (but not random-sounding), and often just plain lovely.
As excellent as the audio experience of the CD is, the DVD that's included is even more fun. It's true of almost any music (except perhaps purely electronic music where the only visual element is stationary speakers) that the experience is richer when watching the musicians' physical movements. It may be even more true of percussion music, for a couple of reasons. The nature of the instrumental set-up requires a certain amount of choreography that engages the whole body in a way that's usually more visually expressive than the movements of a wind player's fingers, for instance. Also, percussionists use such a wide variety of instruments, including, in many works, virtually any type of object capable of producing an audible sound when struck, blown, or rubbed, that it's intriguing to see the source of sounds that aren't part of the listener's routine musical experience. The DVD of It Is Time has the additional element of a mesmerizing video by Mark DeChiazza that's projected on a screen behind the players. The set should be of strong interest to any fans of new music or music for percussion ensemble. ~ Stephen Eddins
Submitted on 10/07/11 by Dan Coombs
The other members of the group each get their own instrument to overtake: Josh Quillen follows on steel drums, Adam Sliwinski on marimba, and Jason Treuting on drum set. Each of the movements of the piece flow into the other, and the concept of time is altered by the fact that the once-rigid tempo dissolves away, and the players explore the piece in varying tempi. Along with traditional percussion instruments, Sô Percussion employ a pump organ, kitchen timers, small wind-up toys and, on the DVD, an impressive video backdrop on a large screen, showing various images behind the performers.
As exciting as the CD is to listen to, the DVD is even more impressive. The listener/viewer is given the option to hear the piece in stereo or 5.1 surround sound. The video performance of "It Is Time" is expertly produced and choreographed, and the performers explore the stage and, at times, even control the times the other performers may move, via percussive cues. In some instances, the performers are "blurred" as they move about the stage, creating a hallucinatory effect, which works well with the music.
Music students and new music fans that are looking for something innovative and fresh in the percussion repertoire need look no further. This is intelligent music, with a little bit of comedy relief thrown in for good measure. Easily recommended.
Submitted on 10/08/11 by mwilcox15