In C Remixed
Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble
Innova Records released Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble’s In C Remixed project this week. On paper the concept seems simple enough. GVSU’s performers present their own rendition of Terry Riley’s watershed minimalist work In C. The listener is then treated to a host of recreations by both contemporary composers and electronica artists.
Of course, this ‘simple’ concept would have quickly gone awry if either GVSU faltered or its collection of remixers weren’t a creative bunch of talented genre-busters. Happily, the ensemble has their finger on the ‘pulse’ of Riley’s music. Happier still, they’ve enlisted some A-list collaborators.
Some, like DJ Spooky(In Sea of C), create beat-centric versions that seem ready-made for the IDM club. Others such as Nico Muhly (In C with Canons and Bass) and Phil Kline (In Cognito) take things in an experimental direction. Muhly even has the chutzpah to interpolate pitches from ‘outside’ the diatonic in order to spice things up — notably drone F#s. Kline further distresses the source material, adding layers of reverberation, chimes, and soundscaping. In his Simple Mix, David Lang similarly seeks to rework Riley’s piece towards a more atmospheric aesthetic; this time the proceedings heighten the affects of glissandos and de-emphasize metricity. The results in both the Kline and Lang remixes are eerily lovely.
As is more so the case in recent years, some remixers sit astride the pop and classical traditions. Yale-trained composer Dennis DeSantis leads something of a double musical life in concert music and electronica. His remix is a melange of beat overlays, synthetic additions, and restructuring that provides much to please both ear and intellect.
A remix project is always a hodgepodge of disparate approaches. But to this listener, it seems as if Innova has gotten it right, engaging artists who both enjoy Riley’s music and relish the chance to make In C in some way their own.