Somnambule - Writing About Music

Glass Cuts (Philip Glass: Remixed)

The prolific Minimalist composer Philip Glass is subjected to the remix treatment. This follows some six years after Steve Reich saw his work gone over in similar fashion. In fact, Glass was involved in remix work long before, at the end of the ‘80s in his collaborations with Mark Moore’s S’Express (on Hey Music Lover), and later on the orchestrated production of Aphex Twin’s Icct Hedral.

Despite the initial thrill of the form’s potential for articulating the death of the author, not to mention the manifold joys of intertextuality, the remix has mostly become informational noise. In a world awash with cultural product, we’re probably too busy to hear the original, let alone the remix. Does Glass Cuts represent the exception or the rule? Well, Luciano Supervielle’s good-natured tech-house treatment of Etude No.2 betrays only a whisker of the original composition, while Hector Castillo and Eduardo Larez’s version of the Saxophone Concerto manages to conflate the benign and the banal into one all-too easy-to-swallow lozenge. In a momentary respite, Androoval mangles Etude No. 1. Thank goodness. He slices up the piano and pastes in a loping break and although the treatment doesn’t end up anywhere very exciting, it’s an enjoyable diversion. For the most part, however, the 13 treatments here present competent, but remarkably unimaginative rhythms that mostly serve to dilute the methodical - and occasionally impressive - progress of the original pieces. To answer the question posed earlier, this project very much abides by the rules rather than aspiring to the exceptional. Only one piece stands out: Taylor Deupree’s remix of Etude No.5 is becalmed and sinister. Stare into its dark depths for significance, you won’t find it anywhere else on Glass Cuts.

Colin Buttimer
February 2006
Published by e/i Magazine