Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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Beautiful Mechanical - yMusic

I had never hear of yMusic before I purchased Beautiful Mechanical. I bought the album and let it sit for a month or so before I got around to listening. I’m a huge fan of playing classical music and listening live, but never a fan of recorded classical music. When I finally did start, I’ve listened to this album every day. The musicians are fantastic and the compositions wonderful.

yMusic is somewhat eccentric in their instrumentation. I can pick out one trumpet, flutes (maybe a whistle?), clarinet, and what sounds like a string quartet. A couple of tracks also have a guitar and I hear a french horn from time to time. No percussion and no low brass. As a trumpet player, I have to say the trumpet has a classical sound that is as perfect and clear as any I’ve ever heard.

The composers are a mix of rising classical composers (Sarah Kirkland Snyder, Gabriel Kahane, Judd Greenstein) and surprising folks from the alternative world (Ryan Lott, Annie Clark, Shara Worden). Some amazing talent here - particularly the classical composers - that I’ll be listening to more from.

Although the entire album is wonderful, there are two tracks that stand out for me. The title track composed by Ryan Lott of Son Lux is a classical romp full of energy. Almost playful in places, Beautiful Mechanical makes me sit up in my chair and demands attention. The rhythmic dissonance used by the composer is incredibly effective.

Clearing, Dawn, Dance composed by Judd Greenstein is the best song I have heard in the last 12 months of any genre. Period. It is a soaring piece that makes me think of Glass and Copeland. Glass in the pulsating form of the song’s structure and Copeland in the use of tempo and rhythm. Similar to the title track, the energy of this piece is incredible and will force you out of our chair.

Also worth a mention is Proven Badlands with wonderful trumpet and flute working together, and A Whistle, a Tune, a Macaroon that is as playful and fun as its title suggests.

If this is the future of classical music, man have we got a great ride ahead of us. I will be looking for more by Greenstein, Synder, and Lott as well as yMusic generally. Great stuff.