Music review: Bang on a Can All-Stars
Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Bang on a Can All-Stars at the Usher Hall, reviewed by Susan Nickalls
For Field Recordings, Brooklyn-based Bang on a Can All-Stars invited composers to write pieces based on recorded sound itself with several of these unveiled in the UK for the first time.
For instance, Steve Reich’s The Cave of Machpelah, a beautiful new arrangement of a scene from his multi-media opera The Cave, Todd Reynold’s gospel-flavoured Seven Sundays and Johann Johannson’s Hz incorporating film of a disused 1920s Reykjavik power station with synchronised sound effects and live instruments.
The tightly-knit All-Stars gave a slick, polished performance, and it was fascinating to glimpse the past via new technology. Only Mira Calix’s Meeting You Seemed Easy with its busy airport scenes and noises seemed more focused on the modern condition. Julia Wolfe’s Reeling, incorporating French Canadian singer Benoit Benoit, could easily pass for puirt-à-beul, Gaelic mouth-music, and Anna Clynes’s A Wonderful Day, based on the recording of a man she met in the street, Wooly Barbee, was hugely touching.
There was plenty of wit in the pieces featuring video clips but the most compelling work was David Lang’s unused swan featuring an amplified pan into which the percussionist dropped and dragged metal objects such as chains to great effect.
Originally published in The Scotsman