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Press Reviews for Mothertongue

The four-movement title sequence from Chinatown-based composer Nico Muhly's forthcoming LP, Mothertongue, exhumes the detritus of memory. Muhly plumbed his mind for old, useless phone numbers, serial numbers, street numbers-- all the context-dependent codes we accumulate over a lifetime-- and turned them into a secret, subliminal, and ultimately unsolvable cipher. This condensed excerpt from "Mothertongue" begins with the insectile buzz of a mind digesting itself, as mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer unravels sonorous strands of digits with religious fervor. Its palette includes rose-scented Romantic-era strings and mighty modernist synthesizers, and it has the same celestial, ululating quality of Music in 12 Parts by Philip Glass (with whom Muhly has worked in various capacities). Many classical composers seem like the Wizard of Oz; the glowing godhead of the music distracts us from the man behind the curtain. But Muhly always wants to be perceived, and here, we witness the junkyard of his memory being spun into something at once utterly ordinary and utterly strange.

Pitchfork Media (August 19th 2008)

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