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Reflections: Koyaanisqatsi

August 3, 2009

I was really happy to get the new release from Philip Glass’ label Orange Mountain Music last week – the Original Soundtrack Version of Koyaanisqatsi.  This might be the last work by the composer that I really love.  Perhaps its because I don’t have full access to his materials, but I feel like a lot of his works following Koyaanisqatsi simply explore the same musical materials in different settings.

In Koyaanisqatsi, it still all feels fresh.  The rhythms that Glass seems to hit Fast Forward on, the belting choral harmonies, the trumpet muting, the very unsubtle cadential passages, etc.  Essentially the trance like nature of it all is just striking.  I can understand why people would have been shocked into loving this music in 1983 – it still feels new and vibrant to me right now today.

Also, the structure is really striking – Glass’ movement from one section to another provides an emotional journey you just don’t experience in a lot of others composers music.  I’m having a hard time describing it, but sometimes I feel like composers try to pull emotional strings just to show they can make contrast, while I feel like Glass is really interested in exploring those different ideas and how they relate.  The end of The Grid leading into Prophecies is the most amazing moment of that in the soundtrack, but certainly not the only.

Anyways, if you don’t have the 1998 version of Koyaanisqatsi, I definitely suggest taking a listen to this.  Its worth your time.

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