I don’t know about you, but when you hear Danny Elfman’s music (Oingo Bongo and soundtracks for a lot of films, from Tim Burton to Marvel Universe), you know it was only a matter of time before his manic energy found an outlet in a work for contemporary percussion ensemble. That’s exactly what we get here with this twenty-minute Percussion Quartet, a rapid-fire of rhythmic bounce, nervous bubbling and sarcasm-tinged humour, with a few necessary lulls here and there. You can recognize the guy behind the musical soul of The Simpsons, Spider-Man, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and many others in the genre, all jewels signed with his unique pen. Irresistible. Also on the programme, an arrangement of Metamorphosis no 1 (originally for piano) by Philip Glass, a beautiful episode of quiet introspection, then a very original collaboration with the electro artist Jlin, whose exceptional Dark Energy, released in 2015, will be remembered. Jlin did not write the score but instead provided the members of Third Coast Percussion with the tape result of her work for the seven-movement suite Perspective. Together they made a version that could be played by human hands (but what hands!!). The result is a real modern masterpiece, combining the heterogeneous sounds of some thirty instruments with a very groovy, even hip-hop, look and feel. Wow! It ends with another surprising marriage: that of percussions with a duo of flutes. Flutronix, Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull in real life, turn the usual percussion paradigm on its head. Indeed, while in most classical works mixing percussion with other instruments the former often acts as a creator of colour to the benefit of the latter, in Rubix, a three-movement work, it is the percussions that create the sound cushion on which the flutes lay down surprising rough edges.
Third Coast Percussion is a high-quality ensemble that dares to play a refreshing repertoire and original collaborations. A technique of exemplary precision and a sincere connection with a contemporary zeitgeist that is resolutely accessible while remaining scholarly make this a must for music lovers in search of good contemporary music, in the true sense of the word, i.e. music that could not have been written anywhere but today.