John Zorn

William Winant – Five American Percussion Pieces (Poon Village)

Winant is a West Coast percussion master of new music and generally regarded as an elite in his sphere, evidenced by his resume as collaborator of experimental music titans like Terry Riley and John Zorn. But Winant, a fascinating player in his own right, has rarely been heard in a solo context. This album serves as a survey of Winant’s various techniques. Schooled at Cal Arts in the 70s, a fertile environment that produced artists as diverse as Mike Kelley and James Tenney, Winant developed his style on non-conventional instruments sourced from junk and discarded items. Five American Percussion Pieces features Winant tackling the work he knows best, that of his West Coast mentors and peers. His take Michael Byron’s “Trackings 1” performed on four “Metallophones”, has a Steve Reich feel but is far more fluid and less structurally rigid, creating a hypnotic but constantly shifting effect. “Bang Zoom Excerpt”, performed on 13 tuned cowbells sounds like a gamelan ensemble playing over a UFO landing. But Winant can play it as easy or heavy as is required as shown on his take on Tenney’s “Having Never Played a Note for Percussion” in which a minimal tone blossoms into a roaring wave only to recede again into tranquility. Five American Percussion Pieces makes a strong case for Winant as a singular musical entity with this truly significant and highly listenable record.

by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 11/18/2013 in Reviews | Tags: , , , ,