Michael Torke’s ‘Being’ is a transfixing 43-minute composition that shimmers with infectious energy, despite its lacklustre album cover.
American composer Michael Torke has once again delivered an album that showcases his unique voice and style, drawing inspiration from jazz and minimalism to create a work that shimmers with vibrant timbrel palettes and infectious energy.
Finished in 2019, “Being” is a continuous 43-minute composition that consists of nine parts, each building on the previous and creating a hypnotic and immersive experience for the listener.
Before talking about the music, we need to talk about the elephant in the room – that album cover. It looks like someone typed in “women holding coffee staring into the abyss” on a stock photo website and called it a day. But don’t let the questionable art direction deter you, the music inside is worth every quid.
With a tempo of 126 beats per minute that remains consistent throughout, the album’s pulsating and vibrant atmosphere invites the listener to dance along. Torke’s use of counterpoint is a standout feature, creating a sense of constant activity and motion that adds a layer of complexity and interest to the work. The album’s bubbling counterpoint is full of infectious energy and joyous celebration, with fleeting moments of contemplative calm interspersed throughout.
“Imagine Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians with an added dose of giddiness and glee. Variety of mood compensates for variety of tempo; and verve for profundity”, writes pianist Paul Crossley.
Despite its minimalist roots, “Being” is far from sterile or dull. Torke’s masterful orchestrations and use of pop song progressions and nods to American music theatre create a work that is full of vibrant textures and colours. No doubt Torke elevates his work beyond mere minimalism, he showcases his talent as a master orchestrator.
Some may dismiss Torke’s music as frivolous, but “Being” proves otherwise. It’s a testament to Torke’s talent and dedication, and a must-listen for anyone who loves music that celebrates rhythm and pulse. This album is a wonderfully performed and authoritative work that deserves all the attention it can get.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1961, Michael Torke attended the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. Torke has achieved numerous accomplishments in his career, including composing Colour Music, Javelin, Four Seasons and two evening-length story ballets. He was appointed Associate Composer of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 1998 and founded Ecstatic Records in 2003. The New York Times selected Torke’s boxed set of complete recordings as one of the top classical albums of the year.
The questionable album cover may lead some to dismiss “Being”, god is it hideous… But the music inside is brilliant and uplifting. It’s like a musical energy drink, minus the jitters and sugar crash. As a fan of Torke’s work, I highly recommend “Being”. It’s a roaring success that will keep you coming back for more.