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Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson: American Style review – avant-garde pioneers going nowhere | Musique Non Stop

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson: American Style review – avant-garde pioneers going nowhere

Royal Festival Hall, London
The boundary-crossing musicians’ state-of-the-nation collaboration has melancholy and charm, but proves less than the sum of its parts

Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson go back a long way, to the heyday of New York minimalism in the 1970s, when Glass was one of the pioneers of that new musical language, and Anderson was just starting out on her boundary-crossing career with its mixture of wryly humorous narratives and multimedia performance art. Their creative paths have crossed occasionally since, and American Style, their latest collaboration which they have been touring since last year, is a retrospective of sorts. In fact it conjures up the laid-back atmosphere of a meeting between two old friends, who get down to reminiscing and worrying over the direction their country is taking at the moment.

It’s all rather low-key (more or less always the same one, in fact, as far as the music is concerned), one-paced, and lacks any real sense of shape. Even the state of the US today seems to arouse more disappointment and sorrow than anger, and the fact that the two are sitting down in front of an audience of a couple of thousand seems almost irrelevant – it’s more a private collection of memories than a performance. Glass sticks to his piano, Anderson commutes between her trademark electric violin and a sampling keyboard, but there’s a cellist too, Rubin Kodheli, whose main role seems to be to flesh out musical textures or add swooning melodic lines, usually to counterproductive effect.

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by Andrew Clements via Electronic music | The Guardian
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