By Matt Kramer | December 30th, 2012
Got 21 minutes to spare? You do for Beck’s ambitious and hypnotic remix of five years worth of some of the most compelling work of composer Philip Glass.
Philip Glass is easily one of the most acclaimed and prolific contemporary composers. Whether you’ve heard of him or not, it’s unlikely that you’ve managed to avoid being exposed to his music. Having done the scores to dozens of films as wells as operas, symphonies, theater work, and collaborations with other artists (visual as well as musical), Philip Glass’ music has achieved a level of mainstream status that few other classically trained composers can claim. (I mean, you can hear Philip Glass when you listen to the radio in Grand Theft Auto IV), so it’s no stretch to say that his music has permeated modern society and has no doubt influenced multitudes of contemporary musicians on some level.
Earlier this year, Glass contacted Beck to arrange a series of remixes of his work by different artists. For the project, an eclectic ensemble of primarily electronic artists was culled up. The result was Rework_Phillip Glass Remixed, which features an impressive cast including Pantha Du Prince, Dan Deacon, Cornelius, Amon Tobin, and others, who each give their own take on different pieces spanning Philip Glass’ career.
Beck’s own 21-minute contribution to this album is by far the most zealous, and for me the most compelling. As its title implies, “NYC 73 – 78″ chronicles and distills about 20 compositions by Glass over a 5-year period while he was living in New York into a meandering, dreamy, introspective, often mesmerizing musical landscape underscored sporadically by Beck’s own dulcet vocals and occasional syth or drumkit work. The piece is sonically dynamic, navigating its way from sparse harp or organ movements into booming operatic chorales. Beck seamlessly blurs Glass’ diverse compositions all the while coyly splicing his own contributions into the remix. I guess that’s kind of the point of this whole project. But considering the scope and multiformity of a remix like “NYC 73- 78,” Beck pulls it off deftly, paying thoughtful homage to the 75 year old composer while maintaining a flair that is unmistakably his own .