I listened first to White Pages as I heard a snippet of it on BBC Radio 3 while driving to work. I liked the style, harmonic changes and economic use of motifs and decided to hunt a Torke CD. I bought Overnight Mail, but I find myself listening more to Telephone Book as it is a more interesting work and seems better compositionally than the other works on the album which seem more borrowed, more eclectic. This review might be rather naive but I think Torke has a great talent and as soon as he rids himself of this 'minimalist influence' (which after all is old hat as it been round for more than a quarter of century) he could be a major influence in the 21st Century in devising a new tonality which would give a kickstart in musical composition which has seem to gone into the wilderness and help give Mankind a successor to the 1 or 2 great composersofthe 20th Century ie.(Stravinsky/Shostakovich).
I've owned this disc for more than ten years now, and it is so rich that, each time get I it down from the shelf, I hear more in it, and my estimation of its beauty and its style increases correspondingly.
I wish there were so much more of this kind of music around. In fact I wish that music like this were at the heart of the mainstream of where the classical tradition had evolved to, in this day. Unfortunately the honkery, tweetery of the experimental avant gardes of the sixties and seventies still hold what's left of the tradition in its toxic thrall. At least on this side of the Atlantic anyway.
The melodic element of Torke's music is entirely up to date, and draws heavily and unabashedly from the popular sounds of everyday life. Blues and rock like riffs surface quite frequently from amidst the counterpoint. His instrumentation, these works are scored for a variety of ensembles, has jazz like elements, with lots of brass and saxophones, but the harmonic and rhythmic language are too austere to be mistaken for jazz. However, it is the muscular and hard working counterpoint that ensures that this is music for the concert hall, lovingly crafted for audiences who want to listen hard, but are imbued with the popular idioms of their day. It is also why, no matter how many times you hear these works, there will always be another angle to listen to them from. The music is life affirming and optimistic even when introspective. I would humbly suggest that the reviewer who suggests that Torke needs to shed the minimalist influence to achieve his full potential has yet to really give himself up to the music. Torke might use repeated riff like devices at the start of a piece, in the minimalist manner, to maybe catch the attention of the more casual listener. I sort of sympathise with the reviewer's point. I have fairly strong antipathy to the minimalist con-trick myself. However, in Torke's case it will never be too many bars before the listener, serious or casual, is carried off down forking paths of great interest, wit and beauty, and the possibility of repetition is held at arm's length, until it's time to tell you that the ride has ended.
I actually own two Torke releases, this and Javelin. I think it's about time that I had a go at a bit more.
In my book Michael Torke is the best in Contemporary music. I listen for hours and never feel bored. I am not a musician but I know whats good-his work in my opinion is much more than that. My especial favourite is colour music. I strongly recommend anyone to sit and listen