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Russian/Ukrainian composer Evgueni Galperine pulls his artistic sources from a few different areas – the advanced harmonics of Shostakovich, the dramatic tension of Tchaikovsky, the lush minimalism of Arvo Pärt – and molds it into his own distinctive point of musical view. But the Paris-based musician doesn’t do this from the conductor’s stand. Instead he uses samplers and electronics to manipulate the sounds of acoustic instruments, sometimes into something unrecognizable, on his ECM debut Theory of Becoming. Menacing opener “This Town Will Burn Before Dawn” and the sedate “Kaddish” come across like an orchestra interpreting Galperine’s vision, but in truth he’s making the sonics dance with his own puppet strings. On the suspenseful “The Wheel Has Come Full Circle,” Galperine makes the trumpet – originally performed by Sergei Nakariakov – play lines that would be challenging for mere humans, though against a background of conventional bass and brass, while the mysterious “Don’t Tell” incorporates vocal samples. “Oumuamua, Space Wanderings” uses more recognizable keyboard and electronic sounds, but still sounds otherworldly, like a classical suite from the other side of the galaxy. The straightforward “La lettre d’un disparu,” meanwhile, goes straight for the emotional jugular. Originally composed as music for the film Loveless without ever seeing a frame, Theory of Becoming heralds the widescreen arrival of a composer of significance.
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