When Drastic Measures Are Inspired Ones

comment about the CD Drastic Measures
by John Melcher & Lomluka Sinfonia
November 1, 2012

A bookshelf is logically supposed to bear only books. As a non-offending violation of this fair rule, the old single I remain will add a review dedicated to a musical CD that I have appreciated. Future will tell if it will become a deviant custom from my side.

Last December, the Thailand based American electronice music composer John Melcher contacted me for reviewing his last release and that’s with pleasure that I endorsed this light assignment of which I publish the result here.

This release of the 5 multi-revised pieces of Drastic Measures, to which is added a track of excerpts from the 1983 version, is interesting for more than a point. As a first reason, I shall say that John Melcher’s intense motivic inventiveness is once again illustrated in a brilliant way. This continuous flow of related themes ongoing on long symphonic-like forms (after its use in the short forms for the songs of Play The Piano Drunk) is the mark of a conscious representative of the minimalist style, as John claims to be, long after the relative decline of this musical movement which met the climax of its influence during the 1970’s.

But, instead of being only a generator of formally close themes smartly chained in long talkative strings, John is a real composer. It means that we are fully legitimate to wait for, through his compositions, a certain organization of the couple “expectation-satisfaction” as well as all the other emotional inflections we are used with, when musical discourse is concerned. And there, we have none reason to be disappointed. The organic evolution of the themes, as mentioned, is served by an evolving instrumentation throughout the pieces which creates a progression of atmospheres. Many gestures are also a composer’s decision and not the result of an algorithmic computation.

For me, the most rewarding piece of this set, as a listener, and my personal favourite is the number II, with its mild orchestration which evolves heavenly. It is also interesting to listen to a group of works which demonstrates what it owes to the style of the 1980’s when synthetic instruments and computer assisted composition started with limited means, to massively compete with more traditional musical resources in the production of musical performances. We can notice how John succeeded, through his successive revisions, in refreshing a sound which was originally dated by the arrangement and the kind of synthetic instrumentation used for this record.

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