Thursday, 7 May 2009

Contemporary classical music with a bizarre twist

Nico Muhly, another 25-year old Juilliard School graduate, has made his mark in the world of music by means of his eccentrically beautiful compositions that are hard to forget once exposed to. His chef d'oeuvre is the album Mothertongue from 2008. 

Mothertongue should be regarded as an example of unorthodox contemporary classical with heavy experimental elements showcasing Muhly's wide range of skills ranging from electronic elements, to string instruments, trumpet music, weird vocals, lyrical music and incorporated poetry. 

Mothertongue 1. Archives Muhly juxtaposes beautiful classical music with both whispering voices, singing voices, electronic drones and static noise. It has the air of a dystopian technocracy while allowing for the Mezzo-soprano singer Abigail Fishcher to shout out numbers, place names and addresses that all stand as a testament to the modern age of chaotic urban living. It is a musical kaleidoscope of the finest kind. 

Wonders II: The Devil Appear'd In The Shape Of A Man: One could see Mothertongue as an exploration of storytelling in music. Wonders II starts off with a narration in a Shakespearean fashion. The narrator presents himself and tells the audience that the story he is about to declaim is truthful. He then starts by describing a "Stranger, Parisian" coachman who encounters the Devil in the shape of a man while driving on a road in the English countryside. The Devil asks the coachman to drive him to a certain church yard. The story then takes on another twist and the narration continues for a few minutes. This occurs in the presence of harp music which slowly turns into bizarre Harlequin-style music. The narration in the song is beautifully done.  

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