SCQ Rating: 75%
A few weeks ago while driving around Lake Huron with Nils Frahm’s Screws scoring the autumnal blur, my wife asked what distinguishes post-classical music from the classical genre. The question gave me a moment’s pause; I’ve never conversed with or read an opinion that unearthed some discrepancy regarding what fit in the post-classical canon and what didn’t. Yet I also couldn’t recall finding a definition that ensured any of us knew what post-classical means.
The answer I attempted then and will try to put more eloquently here is that people who gravitate to post-classical music are looking for the grand emotional scale that old world instrumentation can create, but from artists who are willing to flirt with modern technology; less about structure and rigid playfulness, more about mood, texture and evocation. With exception to the remixes attached to its tail end, Paraphrases flirts with notions of electronic or rock music just as seldom as Mr. Frahm’s lovely, surprise collection but both dedicate themselves to richly somber (if a tad dry) explorations of texture.
The edge goes to Mr. Berg, whose meditative string work and occasional found-sounds blur into warmly organic drone pieces. As if catching traces of classical music in a state of evaporation, tracks like “Interlude” and “Buildings At Night” suggest progressions rather than treading headlong into them. And rounded out more vividly by “Quiet Times At the Library” and “Falling Asleep” (in which the strings – jogging over one another – seem hopelessly intent on staying focused), Paraphrases becomes a beautiful soundtrack for remaining in stasis.