This is a strange time for new music. All manner of divisions, irritating and restrictive as they've been, are disintegrating. Stereotypes, definitions, context -- all are changing. Not to mention the audience. For years, and especially since the 1950's, new music has existed in contradistinction to the classical music world against which it was posited. Beginning with Schoenberg's heroic creation of a new system of equal tones intended to revolutionize the tonality which had come to structure western art music since the 17th century, new music has been created, and heard, as an alternative, a new path. Its full impact cannot be imagined without this backdrop.
No more. In the late '60s, the likes of La Monte Young and Terry Riley and, into the '70s, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, turned new music on its ear. The minimalists, as they came to be called, brought a revolution that not only brought tonal consonance and repetition but, more importantly, opened up possibilities of other musics and their practices.
Enter the California EAR Unit. Early on, they developed a collective style of working and management that is reflected in every aspect of their work. Like musical practitioners of earlier centuries, they each compose and/or improvise, conduct and direct stage performances. The EAR Unit does not make academic distinctions between musics; the group works on what is challenging, rule-breaking and fun. Whether it's Elliott Carter, Steve Reich or John Cage, the California EAR Unit has the freedom for funkiness, the discipline for complexity and the humor for profound seriousness.
Reviews"This is the gift record for doubting friends who still tell you that new music is hellbound in a handbasket." - L.A. Weekly