Nico Muhly

November 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

I’ve been web following Nico Muhly for maybe a month now. Here is a run down wikipedia style. Nico Muhly (born August 26, 1981) is a contemporary Western classical music composer. He has collaborated with many musical artists including most notably Bjork and Philip Glass. Speaks Volumes is his first released album of composed works (2006), followed by Mothertongue (2008). He has been commissioned to write an opera that will debut at the Met in the 2013-2014 season. This is only a sprinkling of everything he has done/has going on.

I first became aware of Muhly watching the Philip Glass documentary “Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts.” If you’ve seen it, he is the charming, suspectedly gay, fast-talking, very young assistant helping Glass midi a score for a film. From youtube videos I’ve watched, he is an incredibly engaging interviewee. He seems to truly, egolessly love what he’s doing. You kind of instantly wish you were his friend.

Really what I wanted to write a review of was the work Mothertongue on the album of same name. I’ve read at least one description of Muhly as a Philip Glass protoge, which I will refrain from doing (although I guess I just did in a way) because I don’t like the idea that an artist exists only as a protoge of someone else. But I think the music world is desparately looking for the next big future important modern composer given that Glass is pushing 75, not to sound too morbid or anything, Glass will probably be around for another thirty years.

I was suspect of Muhly’s success being in some way a function of his charm, which it may be to an extent (anyone’s “success” is this to an extent), but when I heard Mothertongue I stopped caring about that. Again, I hate using Glass as a reference, but it’s kind of like Einstein on the Beach in a Blender. Where Glass uses order, Muhly seems to have more of a tendency to use chaos. Here is Muhly performing a work on the Mothertongue album called Skip Town, a piano work with sampling, and I think the piano is prepared also, he is achieving a percussion effect somehow. It is fascinating in the way it is simultaneously melodic and chaotic.

The Mothertongue work itself is really fascinating and worth a listen to.


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