Bedroom Community

Press Reviews for Drones

In popular music circles, Nico Muhly is best known as an arranger, pianist, and collaborator, given his work with everyone from Björk and Ane Brun to Antony Hegarty, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Usher, just to name a few. Of course, this is only a small part of his identity. Muhly is also an internationally renowned composer. He has collaborated with Philip Glass, written film scores, choral and chamber works, and has issued a trio of albums on the Bedroom Community label. Indeed, his chamber and choral works have been released by no less than the stalwart classical label, Decca. He has received commissions from a bevy of international musical organizations. Drones is a compilation album of three EPs released earlier in 2012. Muhly composed the pieces with a different soloist in mind: pianist Bruce Brubaker, violist Nadia Sirota, and violinist Pekka Kuusisto. The composer plays the accompanying drones on stringed instruments and piano. Two of these works, Drones & Piano and Drones & Violin, were commissions. Though based on drones, these works are far from "easy," they reflect his ability to offer many different timbral and harmonic possibilities. Though his drones provide an ever-present "hum," his soloists engage in ambitious pursuits unique to their instruments. Though it is only a shade over a minute long, in "Drones & Piano, Pt. 3: The 8th Time," an almost transcendent melody emerges from a blocky, dissonant, percussive din. In "Drones & Viola, Pt. 2: Material in a Handsome Stack," Muhly's piano offers a two-note chord on which Sirota engages in long, dramatic tones in her lower register, adding tension and dynamic. "Drones & Viola Part IV Material with a Long Cadence," she offers a series of extended statements ranging from the taut to the pastoral; both sit placidly and in dramatic contrast to the middle register piano drones. "Drones & Violin I, Materials in Eb" shifts its tensions from the shimmering piano chord to sometimes languid, sometimes dissonant tonal and timbral accents played by Kuusisto. In addition to the three EPs, there is a new work included here as a bonus, "Drones in Large Cycles." It features Muhly on programmed and glitched synths, as piano, violin, and piano interact to create ever-repetitive cycles that gradually evolve and transform into others; they evoke not minimalism but its memory. They enter and exit without warning. At nearly 12 minutes, it is perhaps the most harmonically and texturally complex piece here, but is also among the most gentle and resonant. Drones is a necessary acquisition for anyone interested in Muhly's work outside pop.

AllMusic (November 19th 2012) ★★★★★★★★

Mailing List

If you would like to receive news from Bedroom Community, please enter your e-mail address in the box below and press OK.

        

Upcoming events

Discography

Drones
Released on 12 November 2012
Order now

I Drink The Air Before Me
Released on 6 September 2010
Order now

Mothertongue
Released on 25 May 2008
Order now

Speaks Volumes
Released on 25 November 2006
Order now

On the web

  • Find out more on Nico Muhly’s website
  • Check out Nico Muhly’s page on Facebook
  • Follow Nico Muhly on Twitter

Press tools

Listen in Pop-out player