Take equal measures of Gallagher and Kraftwerk, mix in a 15-year supply of blue body paint and shake with a double-shot of modern marketing savvy and you might have something akin to Blue Man Group. This ambitious second album by New York performance artists cum entrepreneurs Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, and Chris Wink expands their central artistic contradiction–mainstreaming the alternative–with a propulsive cocktail of rhythm, irony, self-invented instrumentation, and bona fide song structures that feature turns from guest stars Dave Matthews (the music hall dirge "Sing Along") and Tracy Bonham ("Up to the Roof," and with Rob Swift, "Shadows Pt.2"). The conceit is vaguely reminiscent of the Tubes' tongue-in-cheek ode to '80s corporate rock, "The Completion Backwards Principle," right down to being so convincing the irony often melts away. Fans of their live performances will appreciate its wall-to-wall rhythmic thrust and quirky textures, while aficionados and newcomers alike should welcome its surprising, seductive melodies and mature songwriting.
The piano may not be the ideal medium for capturing the expressive possibilities of Glass' style of minimalism, but pianist Bruce Brubaker selects pieces that work well on the instrument. Part of the problem with hearing Glass on the piano is forgetting the sound of his ensemble, and the variety of colors (and volume) they have imparted to similar music. Brubaker begins his recital of works by Glass and Alvin Curran with his transcription of "Knee Play 4" from Einstein on the Beach. It is in fact a lovely piece on the piano if one can put the spectacular power and tonal range of the instrumental version out of one's mind. "Opening" from Glassworks, originally scored for piano, works beautifully on the instrument, and flows as naturally as the C major Prelude from Book I of The Well Tempered Clavier. The two pieces by Curran, Hope Street Tunnel Blues III and Inner Cities II, use a syntax similar to Glass, with a more dissonant tonal vocabulary. Hope Street Tunnel Blues III has ample kinetic energy that gives it an exhilarating momentum.