Jlin, Philip Glass and Danny Elfman Contribute to ‘Perspectives’
Saverio Truglia/Courtesy of the artists
The style of electronic and dance music known as footwork may seem like an odd bedfellow to classical music, but Grammy-winning band Third Coast Percussion embrace the sound of fleet on Perspectivesa new album that pushes the notion of the percussion ensemble into new territory.
Footwork is the hyper-beat music born in underground dance competitions and Chicago house parties in the late 1990s. On Third Coast Percussion’s album, the style undergoes a fascinating transformation in a seven-movement suite titled Perspective.
The music, which often spins at 150 beats per minute or more, is by Jerrilynn Patton, a footwork fan who started carving her own electronic beats at her parents’ home in Gary, Indiana. She was working in a nearby steel mill when dark energyher debut album, to critical acclaim in 2015 — although she said she’s tired of reporters telling the story.
Passing by Jlin, the electronic artist absorbed the footwork, but turned it upside down for his collaboration with Third Coast Percussion. She did not score the work on manuscript paper, but rather brought her myriad layers of audio to the musicians of the Third Coast and together they fashioned a version that could be played on over 30 instruments.
On “Derivative,” metal bowls filled with water and hit with mallets help create a goofy, dizzying groove, along with bongos, a bamboo “devil hunter,” various gongs, wooden blocks, and car parts.
Another unconventional partnership on the album, Third Coast Percussion composes music with another group, the duo Flutronix, made up of flautists Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull. their room, Rubixfeatures hard-hitting flutes dancing to a relaxing vibraphone and hazy episodes where marimba, swirling tube and bowed flexatone provide an evocative backdrop of light and shadow.
There is another combination on Perspectives it may surprise you, and it comes courtesy of Danny Elfman. You might know him as the frontman of the particular 80s rock band Oingo Boingoor even better by its nearly 100 film scores, for films like Edward Scissorhands and Goodwill hunting. For the musicians of the Third Coast, he composed a piece in four movements called simply Percussion quartet. Unlike much academic music for percussion ensembles, Elfman has his quartet sing softly, relying heavily on warm marimba sounds intertwined with tinkling tube chimes and high-pitched metallic pipes.
It says a lot about this band’s commitment to brand new music when the oldest track on the album is from 1988. Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis n°1, originally for solo piano, undergoes a vast and serene renovation. At one point the soft, swinging theme is taken up by a melodica, and later sparkles with a flurry of glockenspiel and rattlesnakes.
The concept of percussionists performing as an ensemble, apart from a symphony orchestra, is less than 100 years old. Third Coast Percussion, with albums like Perspectivescontinues to push percussion in new directions, blurring musical boundaries and appealing to new listeners.