photo & text by nacrowe
as a COMPOSITION, GLASSWORKS (SONY, 1981) was the celebrated MINIMALIST composer PHILLIP GLASS' concerted effort to provide POSTMODERN chamber music to a wider listenership beyond lovers of EXPERIMENTAL classical music. it was COMPOSED, RECORDED and MIXED with the portable cassette player in mind as its vehicle, not a traditional setting such as a sterile church or grand ballroom. as such, HUMAN MOVEMENT is interestingly included in the mix making such GLASSWORKS potentially an IMMERSIVE and INTERACTIVE listening experience.
maybe because of my knowledge of such, whenever i listen to this recording it reminds me of something called "walking zazen" i came into contact with ZEN BUDDHISM when living in JAPAN. essentially such is walking MEDITATION which one does in silence in the intervals between seated MEDITATION, or zazen. this practice pedals back in forth for a few hours as practiced in that centuries-old tradition. given the PORTABILITY of the cassette player, there is a sense that all the hallmarks of GLASS' compositional tropes, such as REPETITIVE PHRASING, ARPEGGIATED MELODIES and ODD TIME SIGNATURES, are being interpreted through the act of PHYSICAL MOVEMENT in the real world, not seated disassociation. when experienced outside while walking in the city or im a park, the effect is the same of ALL-CONSUMING MANTRA both shielding you from and immersing you into your surroundings.
GLASS himself was a regular practitioner of MEDITATION in the TIBETAN tradition and i have no doubt utilized his work as an extended EXPRESSION of such along the same lines. for me GLASSWORKS is interesting in that it almost beckons the listener to actively seize the content and seamlessly integrate such into their own lives and daily routines far behind the confines of stuffy society functions and overwrought concert halls.
at least that is my take. im probably just projecting but either way, GLASSWORKS is an excellent entry point into epic aural soundscapes of one of the past century's most RENOWNED and INFLUENTIAL composers, PHILIP GLASS.
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