Evan Ziporyn's 2005 release on New Albion is called, self-effacingly, typical music, and some skeptical listeners might find this title accurate enough, since the music seems to be a fusion of ordinary pop harmonies, touch-and-go minimalism, bland extended effects, and diluted Asian music. Because of his blurring of influences and frank imitation of familiar styles, it might seem that Ziporyn's work is merely eclectic and directionless, if not wholly faceless. (Considering the composer's assimilation of Balinese thought and culture, the lack of a personal style, linear goals, and clear meanings in his music is probably intentional). The piano piece Pondok certainly resembles a solo jam by Keith Jarrett, the Piano Trio smacks of Philip Glass' neo-Romantic chamber music, and Ngaben (for Sari Club) sounds like a Westernization of Indonesian gamelan. These resemblances may be accidental or deliberate, yet they may also be beside the point. Versatile and fully aware of what he does, Ziporyn could achieve his ends in any musical language, since the use of idioms in this polystylistic age is discretionary anyway. Yet Ziporyn's syntheses are potentially meaningful, perhaps even cautionary. If, for example, the blending of Eastern and Western elements in Ngaben is ominous, grating, disorienting, and disturbing -- especially in light of the Bali bombing of October 12, 2002 -- then Ziporyn's music bears much closer scrutiny, and may not be so "typical," after all. The sound quality is fine in all the selections, though it is clearest in Sarah Cahill's crystalline performance of Pondok, and warmest in the Arden Trio's rendering of the Piano Trio.
For more information about the composer, visit the artist page for Evan Ziporyn.