Repetition is a form of change – statement on a card from Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies deck
There’s a joke that goes like this: “
Paul Zukofsky, whose sawed motif somehow evokes both a hoedown and classical precision at once and manages to grab my ears each time it comes back into the fold.
“Act III” is the dance portion, which starts out slow but works up to a head of steam that can drive you nuts if repetition and variation isn’t your thing. But there is definitely variation – while motives are played a few times, dropped, and then come back there are very few (if any) bars of this music that are actually identical. And though it starts mellow, it heats up around the 3 ½ minute mark, kicks it up another notch at about 7 minutes, and from about 8 ½ minutes it’s a full-on boil until the end with nothing other than a momentary breather to relieve the relentless rhythmic drive of the strings, horns, keyboards, and vocalists singing their phonemes.
For the album, Glass assumed (rightly) that most listeners would not have seen the full work and so scaled down the pieces and cut the theatre portion of the work most significantly. But the concert and dance segments – Acts II and III – are spectacular and the shortened parts of Act I nicely set up the bigger set pieces. There are those who won’t respond to the way it keeps moving and rearranging and repeating pieces to build up to the last few climactic minutes – and you know who you are – but for those whose tastes run toward the build of rhythm that can be found across music as diverse as house music, African music, and for that matter some of the best rock and roll, you should play this as loud as you (or your neighbors) can stand it and drink in the beauty of the quiet parts and the intensity of the rest of it.
- Patrick Brown