Arnold Dreyblatt - Propellers In Love
Superior Viaduct has once again done what it does best; resurrect a relic of the past and given it new life. This time their Lazarus is Arnold Dreyblatt & The Orchestra of Excited Strings' 1986 masterwork, Propellers In Love. Dreyblatt may not be as recognizable of a name as say Philip Glass, Charlemagne Palestine, or Steve Reich, but this is due to the fact that Dreyblatt did most of his work in the 1980s after the initial boom of New York-based, minimal composers. He has been considered “the most rock 'n' roll of all the composers to emerge from New York's downtown scene in the 1970s, and as absurd as it may sound to project Rock N Roll and all of its trappings to a minimalist composer, somehow it makes sense.
There is a certain quality inherent to his work that allows it to exist outside the realm of modern classical music. Often times when listening to modern classical, it feels as if you are in a classroom being taught something new, or seeing a theory of music put into practice. Of course not all works of the genre feel this way. Many pieces offer a transcendent quality bringing you out of the metaphorical classroom for a feeling more spiritual than intellectual. Dreyblatt still seems to exist outside either of these categories. There is a stylized quality to his music that makes it feel much different, like you’re hearing songs more than pieces. The music itself contains both rhythmic and tonal experiments with various string instruments but what's so impressive, is that it never feels like you are listening to the experiment. It feels like you are listening to the execution of concepts that have been worked out long before the tape was rolling. A lot of his methods involve playing with overtones and as the liner notes state, the pieces are largely subject to the environment in which they are recorded. So it’s not to say that the album feels immediate, but rather that the players and the composer are so well in tune with their approach that the execution is masterful. If you imagine later day Swans music without the vocals & drums, you would be getting close to understanding their sonic range. Or if Glenn Branca and his ensemble took a shower to wash away their No Wave stench and taught themselves to stand up straight instead of slouching, if that makes any sense to you.
Dreyblatt and his Excited Strings have easily become one of my favorites of the minimalist school of thought, largely due to the production of their music. Unlike most music from the 1980s, Dreyblatt and his Orchestra sounds timeless and somehow avoids the production techniques of most music made in the decade, i.e. the usually over compressed digitized sound of many of Philip Glass' 1980’s material. It sounds as if it could have been recorded in any decade, with no clear indication of when this music came from, or even where it came from for that matter. Nevertheless, Propellers In Love is here now, again. (Adam)
Check out an excerpt here.