Published on July 30, 2022 by Textura | Share this post!
“The four works speak to Third Coast Percussion’s open-minded sensibility and the daring with which it’s expanding the percussion repertoire. Adding to the project’s appeal, all are world premiere recordings.”
“…joy and the thrill of group interaction are palpably felt in the quartet’s virtuosic execution.”
The performances on Perspectives by Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore) are dynamic, but it’s the programme that recommends the recording most. While the group’s re-imagining of Philip Glass’s solo piano setting Metamorphosis No. 1 is memorable, the other works are powerful too. Danny Elfman engages with his four-movement Percussion Quartet, flute duo Flutronix collaborates with the Chicago-based quartet for the three-movement Rubix, and electronic musician and composer Jlin (Jerrilynn Patton) adds a funky dance music dimension to the album through her seven-part Perspective. The four works speak to Third Coast Percussion’s open-minded sensibility and the daring with which it’s expanding the percussion repertoire. Adding to the project’s appeal, all are world premiere recordings.
Though some might identify Elfman as the one-time frontman for Oingo Boingo, even more recognize him now for his work as the composer of film soundtracks for Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and others. In titling his piece Percussion Quartet and its parts “Movement 1,” “Movement 2,” and so on, Elfman eschews programmatic reference, the composer seemingly content to focus exclusively on exploring the rhythmic possibilities a percussion work affords. He also draws upon an adventurous personal background, including a self-guided tour across Africa to absorb a diversity of musical traditions, for material that stretches from American minimalism to Indonesian Gamelan. Much like a classical string quartet work or symphony, the parts exemplify contrasting characters and moods, with two effervescent movements framing serene and gamelan-heavy episodes. Sensitivity to timbre is shown in Elfman’s arrangement, and joy and the thrill of group interaction are palpably felt in the quartet’s virtuosic execution.
Third Coast Percussion amplifies the haunting character of Glass’s Metamorphosis No. 1 in an arrangement that vividly exploits the abundant contrasts offered by marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, and melodica. The group’s credited as co-composer with Flutronix (Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull) for Rubix, their collaboration rooted in a playful “game piece” approach that involves each party contributing material that’s then collectively refined into a final, through-composed form. The three movements definitely reflect that collaborative process in featuring flute and percussion equally, be it during the exuberant “Go,” sparkling “Play” (with its early Glass-like patterns), or dreamy reverie “Still.”
Of the four works, it’s Jlin’s that hits hardest. The approach she adopted for its creation is in itself interesting: after preliminary groundwork that involved sampling the group’s percussion arsenal, Patton created each movement as an electronic track, the results of which the quartet then turned into a half-hour version it could deliver live. Her background in footwork and other dance club styles permeates Perspective in the force and insistence of its thrust and the earthy funkiness of its percolating polyrhythms. Your ears are sure to perk up when the junkyard percussive techno-funk of “Derivative” and “Embryo” roll out, and certainly no other work on the album equals Perspective as a body-mover.