It's often difficult to define the music you would expect a modern composer to write. In the past, composers wrote for orchestras and brass bands. Now, that territory seems to exist solely in the world of film and television. In the case of musician Adrian K. Yee, that role has been one of writing works for his school’s symphonic orchestra to perform. It also means playing in bands and performing in and around his home of Vancouver. He's currently at university studying philosophy and is soon going to begin studying mathematics and physics.
I make a point of mentioning that detail because his educational pursuits have obviously had an impact on his writing. Yee is a very talented multi-instrumentalist who tackles not only the usual assortment of instruments someone with that title would play (guitar, bass, drums), but also orchestral instruments. In that sense, he reminds me a lot of Jeremy Larson, though Yee's music doesn't feel like cinema. It feels like a wave.
His album entitled Tribute To Cinematographer Christopher Doyle is a remarkably ambient album that focuses much more on texture than melody while still holding the listener's interest. "So Long Sibelius,” the opening track, is both the longest and the creepiest piece on the album. A haunting piano melody rings throughout and you find yourself in a darker place than you were before you started listening. Much of the unique sound that Yee was able to create was a result of processing the instruments through guitar pedals instead of software effects. This allows much more control of the sounds and processes the signals in a completely different way. The second track, "Linklater,” is quite incoherent. For the most part, it's oscillating white noise mixed with guitars that have been distorted beyond recognition. While it makes for an interesting sound, I found myself confused about what I was hearing about half way through.
"Weightless" is the most song-like of the four tracks. It features distinct parts as well as an incredible display of piano playing. The rhythm keeps you on your toes wondering where it's going to go next while staying completely under control. Clarinets and strings close out the final song, "Saprophyte.” It's a beautiful track that plays around with dynamics and huge percussive rumbles that lead into the closing sounds and the sleep that Yee was in search of as he wrote and recorded this album.
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