Pasa Tem­pos Mu­sic by Dan Welcher and Jamie XX

Places in the West

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - — Robert Ker

(Longhorn Mu­sic) Much as Thomas Moran or Ge­or­gia O’Keeffe memo­ri­al­ized the Amer­i­can West on can­vas, Dan Welcher has re­peat­edly por­trayed it in tones. He’s not a trendy com­poser, but his post-Co­p­lan­desque mu­sic has staunch in­tegrity and is in­fused with an op­ti­mistic spirit that may in­spire a lis­tener to re­turn for re­peat vis­its — a rare at­tribute in con­tem­po­rary scores. He has taught at the Univer­sity of Texas in Austin for 37 years, and one of his school’s per­form­ing groups, the Univer­sity of Texas Wind Ensem­ble, brings crack­er­jack pol­ish to its in­ter­pre­ta­tions of his works in this hearty disc, con­ducted by Jerry F. Junkin. Clock­ing in at 35 min­utes, his Four Places in the West seems a sym­phony man­qué, although its move­ments were not con­ceived as an en­tity and were in­tro­duced as stand­alone tone po­ems over many years. They con­vey his in­tense ap­pre­ci­a­tion of na­tional parks: Glacier (icy chill yield­ing to surg­ing rivers and re­turn­ing full cir­cle to frigid ex­pectancy), Yel­low­stone (de­pict­ing fire and re­newal), Arches (a lonely land­scape filled with bird­song), and Zion (in­cor­po­rat­ing early pi­o­neer hymns). His Sym­phony No. 4, sub­ti­tled Amer­i­can Vi­sion­ary, was con­ceived as a trib­ute ex­tolling the in­ter­ests and ideals of one of his univer­sity’s busi­ness­man-phi­lan­thropists. The piece ended up more com­pelling than one might hope, its en­er­getic move­ments ca­pa­bly evok­ing ma­chines, fam­ily, and com­mu­nity with sparkle and sin­cer­ity. — James M. Keller

JAMIE XX In Colour (Young Turks) Bri­tish pro­ducer Jamie Smith (who per­forms as Jamie xx) first ap­peared to mu­sic au­di­ences around the world with xx, the 2009 al­bum by his band, which is also called the xx. That al­bum is min­i­mal­ist to the ex­treme, fea­tur­ing mu­sic that is nearly stripped down to just bass and vo­cals — the al­bum’s cover fea­tures a white x against a black back­ground. Since then, he’s added bits and pieces to his sound with stray sin­gles and a mag­nif­i­cent remix al­bum with Gil Scott-Heron, and he’s also grad­u­ally brought color to his al­bums’ art­work. Now, his de­but solo al­bum finds him adorn­ing the cover with the en­tire spec­trum of hues and an on-the-nose ti­tle, and un­sur­pris­ingly, the mu­sic seems to burst forth with a full bou­quet of tones, sounds, and melodic styles. While not al­ways dance­able, In Colour touches on el­e­ments of dance history: reg­gae, Caribbean mu­sic, hip-hop, disco, and much more ap­pear, as he in­vites rap­per Young Thug to join on one song and slides into a jun­gle rhythm on the next. The al­bum high­light is “High Places,” a song with xx vo­cal­ist Romy Madley-Croft. It be­gins like an xx song, with just her voice over a qui­etly puls­ing beat. As the song pro­gresses, a choir-like ar­ray of voices join in on the cho­rus, even­tu­ally blos­som­ing into a com­po­si­tion that feels glo­ri­ously over­sized and, yes, full of color.

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