This set, beautifully packaged, contains remastered versions of the two albums Andrew Poppy released on ZTT Records in the mid-eighties - 'The Beating of Wings' and 'Alphabed'. Significantly it also contains a wealth of previously unreleased material from that period....
This is music that is full of technical, intellectual, visceral and atmospheric appeal. It will almost certainly appeal to people who like Steve Reich or Philip Glass and other more obscure 'minimalist' composers, because it seems to initally be coming from that direction.
However, what makes it different, and in a way more interesting, is that at this point in his career Poppy seemed to be driving towards a music which was more studio focused in many respects and which went further than Reich, Glass and others in adopting the music technology and production techniques of popular music and using it to forge a bona fide new kind of art music. Thus, music such as this is the natural successor to Reich and Glass in the innovation stakes.
Of course we are talking mid-80s and Poppy particularly makes extensive use of the Fairlight CMI (cutting edge music technology at the time) to produce much of the music in this set. Where acoustic instruments and voices are used in conjunction with the electronics I believe the work is at its most successful. Sometimes the purely electronic pieces have an 80s pop feel which is not too far removed from the electro pop of the day, and thus is slightly dated.
The remastering has certainly helped across the board - 'The Object is a Hungry Wolf' for instance now sounds much fuller and less spikey than on the previous CD version.
Highlights for me across the whole collection include the stately '32 Frames for Orchestra', the propulsive extended mini-opera '45 Is' and the very ambient 'Goodbye Mr G' with its idiosyncratic use of text and narration. For me, a significant highlight of this set is the previously unreleased 'The Passage (1-3)', a 26 minute long epic with banging electronic metallic percussion and operatic vocals.
If you are interested in genuinely innovative music then it will be well worth your while purchasing this collection.