If you like minimalism with a post-pop/Bang on a Can bent, you’ll love Sun, Will Grow by American composer (and filmmaker) Taylor Joshua Rankin. Rankin is based in Los Angeles, unlike most of the leading composers of this school, who are often rooted in the north-east coast, mainly New York.
Rankin’s repertoire ranges from piano to relatively full chamber orchestra, often enhanced by a synthesiser, and is varied in texture and instrumental colour. While some pieces (such as Speaking Clearly) are light and airy, like Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, others like Snow Leopard are denser in expression, with tight string harmonies that stifle emotional space before breaking free in the form of dreamy, peaceful contemplation. A Cloud Stands, Geometric has something Wagnerian about it, but stripped of its orchestral grandiloquence to retain only the march towards a metaphysical light. This march is erratic, however, oscillating between solar plenitude and fleeting shadows that make you grit your teeth and doubt the relevance of the journey. Fabulous. Sun, Will Grow, for piano and synth, is reminiscent of the opening credits of an auteur film. And it goes on like that, with several stylistic universes following on from each other with ease.
Rankin says he is inspired to write his music by his favourite filmmakers: Tsai Ming-liang, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Andrei Tarkovsky and Federico Fellini. The links with the music are unclear, but this information, whether known or not, in no way detracts from the pleasure of listening.
One detail of Rankin’s creative process is original: his compositions include a creative space for the studio part of any future recording. The electronic elements that sit closely alongside the acoustic portions can evolve as the tools and instruments available to the studio engineers of the future develop.
Every music lover who appreciates modern music with an artsy and chamber pop edge should pay attention to this album and this composer.