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Animating Degree Zero

NW 80687CD NW 80687CD

"I aspire to incorporate spiritual immensities in my music through masses of sound which intensifies by the process of refraction or blurring, while allowing submerged melodic lines to appear and disappear. It's like painting with a very large brush. Like those old fresco guys -- or like Asian calligraphy on a massive scale -- even with one tone. You know, like a big swipe with a very loaded brush." -- James Drew. "Nicolas Slonimsky has described James Mulcro Drew (b. 1929) as an 'authentic member of the American experimental tradition.' Thinking about what Slonimsky might have meant by his statement, one thinks of another member of that tradition -- Harry Partch. Drew, like Partch, has always been a loner -- not a member of any school or movement, he has remained largely outside the US university patronage system and has remained 'on the move' rather than settling in one environment. Like Partch, James Drew has made his own brand of theater as well as being a composer, and he has no hesitation to run against the fashion or canon of our time. He is a composer who is fascinated by all kinds of music, and as a result his own musical surfaces may be more highly varied -- for instance, 'Bonaroo Breaks' vs. '12 Centers Breathing' vs. 'The Lute in the Attic' -- than those of other composers. This composer portrait, spanning the length of his career, is the first recording devoted entirely to Drew's music and is an excellent introduction to his idiosyncratic sound world. It features several of his important chamber pieces, ranging from a key early work, 'The Lute In The Attic' (included in the score anthology, Notations, assembled by John Cage in the mid-1960s, a collection that illustrated the breadth of notational approaches being employed by composers at that point in musical history) to a recent large-ensemble work, Animating Degree Zero. These are all world-premiere recordings."