Drowned in Sound: Thomas & Nico

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Tuesday July 03, 2018

From Drowned in Sound

Thomas Bartlett & Nico Muhly – Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music
By: Philippa Nicole Barr

Peter Pears is one of those very rare albums which is totally unique in structure and concept. Nine songs written by Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly inspired by three gamelan transcriptions by ethnomusicologist Colin McPhee which inspired the songs. This concept results in an album with a lot of diversity as the traditional and modern, analogue and contemporary combine and separate in new ways. The gamelan instrumentals clearly influence how the more electronic or dance pieces have been written, whether in the way the pacier tracks with electronic beats are composed or in the way the more traditional instrumental pieces are performed.

The concept works because the music is performed in such a way that the analogue and electronic styles become complimentary, as the electronic music is given a particular softness, such as in tracks like “Valentine”, and the gamelan music develops a sense of rhythm and volume through the arrangements for multiple instruments.

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