John Luther Adams & Seattle Symphony
John Luther Adams’ Become Desert is a remarkable expansion on the ideas he developed for his Pulitzer-winning (and Grammy-winning) work Become Ocean. While not necessarily a “sequel” in the literal sense, the recording certainly shares multiple elements with its predecessor — including, most significantly, the renewal of Adams’ creative partnership with conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony.
In his 2018 essay for the New York Times, Adams prepares us for listening to Become Desert with a map, of sorts, to help us find the state of “swimming in light” that the music is meant to convey. Along the way, “You begin to feel that this music you had thought was suspended in time is slowly leading you somewhere, pulling you somewhere. It continues upward, rising with inevitable force, like the wind or the light.”
The second disc in this 2-disc set is a DVD which includes a 5.1 surround mix of the recording, as well as a slideshow of desert images (all still photography by John Luther Adams) that loops during playback. And as further testament to the triumph and technical complexity of the recording process itself, the production team behind Become Desert has partnered with Dolby Laboratories to create a Dolby Atmos mix—a first for a Cantaloupe Music release.