Info XVI Reflections on Classical Music - Various 
"XVI Reflections on Classical Music"
compilation album
Universal, Decca & Point. (480 2220)
"Il Fait Nuit Berlin" by Sylvain Chauveau
"Snow Airport" by Greg Haines
"Suberb Novel" by me raabenstein
"Tramp with Orchestra III (no strings)" by Gavin Bryars

fn issue October 2011
'N-Plants' - Biosphere
'Sky Snails' - The Electric Golem
'Echo Park' - Willamette
'Gramophone Transmissions' - Broken Harbour
'Negative Space' - Blue Sausage Infant
'Home Patterning' - compilation
'Polychromatic Integers' - Richard Lainhart
'Generate Records' - compilation
'Sung In Broken Symmetry' - Aquarelle

Musical genres as any aficionado will tell you, have historically grown out of a reaction to the fetishism of the previous era. Whether it be the quest for balance and harmony emanating from the disjointed ashes of the Baroque period, or Debussy's longing for dissonance from the melodic sentimentalism of Bedřich Smetana, they all tend to be motivated by periodical ennui of what has gone before. Each new genre parasitically growing on the shoulder of its host before jettisoning a pale carcass to begin a new creative life force. That's of course until everyone remembers how great the golden days were, and the process of neo-re-inventionism begins, only to be toppled from the carousel again by the next big thing. XVI Reflections on Classical Music is an attempt to blur the lines of many of these distinctions, which is as ambitious as it is problematic, and one that will no doubt have many a theoretician waving their batons in reposte. Curated by Nonine label manager Me Raabenstein, it is a compilation of new and old works featuring renown composers such as Phillip Glass, Gavin Bryars, Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto along side new compositions by among others Greg Haines, Lawrence, Sylvain Chauveau and Rabbenstein's own banner Slowcream. Raabenstein states 'All these musical pieces are imbued with the classical spirit [...] whereby 'classical' here embraces all the different types of art music from the Renaissance to New Music. Being an arbiter of what Renaissance Art Music might be is a weighty concern, and if there is such a thing then historical musicology still has life in it yet.

With its roots in the avant garde, art music has always challenged conventions, indeed Raabenstein's reference to punk in the press release highlights this. There is also no doubt that Bryar's Tramp with Orchestra III fits the definition of art music, but my concern is with the oxymoron of a 'classical' art music or classical avant-garde. Definitions aside, the exclusive tracks on this compilation follow a more minimalist trajectory, which is perhaps where the real philosophy of the album lies, and while not challenging many conventions, they make for some very contemplative listening. Whether it's the pianistic quietude of Sylvain Chauveau's Il Fait Nuit Berlin or Greg Haines Snow Airport, both are very evocative tone poems, rich in depth and texture. Raabenstein's own excellent contribution Suburb Novel is a brooding and textured soundscape featuring a monologue reflecting on earthly elements, whilst Wolfgang Voigt aka Gas, samples the music of Bruckner and Wagner, framing them in a scratchy minimal techno workout. The final track Bryar's Tramp with Orchestra III has always been a favourite of mine and as the final manipulations of 'Jesus blood never failed me yet' fade out, I am left feeling that XVI Reflections on Classical Music is indeed a worthy contribution to the annuls of musical history.

Depending on what side of the postmodern fence your sitting on, you will either love or hate the idea of what Raabenstein opines as the 'dissolution of stylistic boundaries'. In any event XVI Reflections on Classical Music is an achievement in itself, even if there still remains a debate about the notion of 'giving a name to a genre that does not exist'.

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