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Marc Chan

My Wounded Head 3

Label: Mode

Format: CD

Genre: Compositional

In stock


An indefinite, open-ended composition of short sections that allows the performer to decide what and when to repeat or to go on to the next phrase is not new. Terry Riley's In C is the milestone score of decades ago. Slow, prolonged, quasi repetitive and contemplative works in the Western classical style are also familiar though the scores of Morton Feldman, John Adams, Brian Eno, John Luther Adams, and Gavin Bryars. Thus, Marc Chan's piano piece, My Wounded Head 3, inspired by Bach's Passion Chorales including four voices, is a challenge for the performer to find the balance of flow and length in the process and also for the listener, who must be open to deep listening and tranquil trance-like states. The album is a 72-minute continuum, although index-tracked into 9 arbitrary but convenient sections. As with In C and also Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, the music becomes timeless, a rhythmic river of repeating gurgles but always different in combination. The pianist, here Rob Haskins, professor at the University of New Hampshire, brings himself into the work, creating intensity and mood with each measure's introduction. A specialist on Bach but also John Cage, Haskins has played the piece often over many months to prepare for the recording, discovering nuances and happenstances. For the listener, the music is an absorbing as well as adventurous ride across a vast landscape. The composer, the performer, and the listener are linked and united in an experience, each listener as much a creator as the composer, making each event unique and personal. The journey has occasional dissonance that comes and go without significance. Sometimes, in index 7, the combinations resemble Riley, other times, Reich, and for a moment, perhaps Bach. The almost random patterns at the end, index 9, however, take on a Philip Glass feeling with characteristic chordal arpeggio pulses (or is it a Bach fugue?). The album reaches a crescendo and stops suddenly with the final chord prolonged and fading, like A Day in The Life on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album. This album carries on the minimalism tradition, but as minimalism itself has roots in traditional world trance and spiritual music, it becomes a vehicle for reflection.

Cat. number: mode 294
Year: 2016
The track listings are arbitrary points to provide an ease of navigation.