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Press Reviews for Speaks Volumes

I have no idea whether or not Kyle Gann would describe the music of Nico Muhly as "postminimalist", but, as Daniel Johnson's liners to Speaks Volumes point out, the fact that Muhly was "born well after the premieres of Reich's Music for 18 Musicians and Glass's Music in Twelve Parts" means he certainly is, at least chronologically speaking. It's also fair to assume that during his studies at Juilliard (with Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano) he devoured the back catalogue not only of Reich and Glass but also the second generation of softcore minimalists like Paul Dresher, Daniel Lentz, Wim Mertens and Michael Torke. Muhly has no qualms about acknowledging his influences – Reich is especially recognisable in the marimba flurries of Pillaging Music (a refreshingly frank title, if ever there was one – there's also Clear Music, Honest Music and Quiet Music) – but he's still very much his own man.

Clear, honest and (mostly) quiet this music might be, but it never goes quite where you expect it to. The plot is thickened by Valgeir Sigurdsson, who breaks all the rules of contemporary classical album production, miking instruments dangerously close, adding "percussion" tracks of his own assembled from miscellaneous bits of instrumental noise, and making full use of multitracking to turn simple solos and duos into whole chamber ensembles. His production on the final mutant passacaglia Keep In Touch is strangely haunting and original, thanks in no small part to the mellifluous cooing of guest vocalist Antony Hegarty (without the Johnsons). It makes a change to come across an album of contemporary music that's not merely a document of a "performance" but a piece of creative recording in its own right.

DW

Paris Transatlantic Magazine (October 1st 2006)

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Discography

Drones
Released on 12 November 2012
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I Drink The Air Before Me
Released on 6 September 2010
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Mothertongue
Released on 25 May 2008
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Speaks Volumes
Released on 25 November 2006
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On the web

  • Find out more on Nico Muhly’s website
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