Carla Rees, Music Web International
The opening track of this CD, Riddle for percussion trio is sparse, with intermittent drum phrases broken up by menacing cricket-like sounds. Despite its slow evolution and minimalist content, there is something attractive about this piece; it has a kind of magnetic power which draws you in and entices you to become part of the action. There is a sense of tension, built by the short phrase lengths and frequent returns to short silences.
By contrast, the title track of the disc, Ding, distinctly jazzy, with an array of sounds and a laid-back feel. The complexity of the music is hidden by decisive and well-controlled playing, with the excellent players of the McCormick Percussion Ensemble giving a fine performance.
The combination of bass clarinet and drum-kit is perhaps an unusual one, but not necessarily unsurprising, given the bass clarinet’s rising dominance in the contemporary music-world. The ensemble works well in Apocalypso; while not containing the same wildness of some modern bass clarinet works, in this piece, Krause demonstrates a good understanding of his chosen instruments. Performed with good rhythmic control and a sense of colour, the piece is handled well by Evan Spritzer and Danny Tunick. The clarinet line is full of characteristically wide leaps, and goes high in its range, while the drum-kit serves mostly in an accompanying role. Having heard other Krause works, I am somewhat surprised by the restraint shown here; perhaps it is successful for the very reason that both instruments are capable of much more than Krause asks of them.
First of July builds up textures with an array of percussion instruments, with rhythmic patterns phasing between the instruments, so that at times they are together and at other times forming complex poly-rhythms as the lines combine. The sleeve-notes state “FIRST OF JULY superimposes a self-similar mensuration canon against statistically-determined ensemble activity that increases in density as the piece unfolds”. The canonic ideas can be clearly heard, through repeated phrases, and the texture does indeed become denser as the piece evolves. In some ways, this is a contemporary off-shoot of minimalism, using texture as a source of musical progression. While the individual music ideas are perhaps too numerous to qualify as pure minimalism, the overall effect is not dissimilar to Reich and his counterparts.
The opening of Go-round is hypnotic, again using minimal sounds which repeat and draw the listener in as part of a trance-like state. Complementary sounds are added one by one, and finally a melodic line is apparent. The sound-world here is reminiscent of South East Asia; it reminded me of the tranquillity of a Thai Spa. This is beautifully meditative music, and proof that Krause has a whole array of skills as a composer. I could listen to this for hours.
The final track, Drain, is a complete contrast to the peacefulness of its predecessor. The only track on this disc to incorporate computer generated sounds, there is a sense of unrest and perhaps even brutality at the opening. After Go-round, this feels like a stark return to reality. A live concert performance, the percussionists respond to the other-worldly sounds of the tape part with a splash of bangs and wallops, sometimes texturally complex, at other times allowing more silence to take over. For me, the most ethereal and gripping moment, is the use of a computer manipulated voice sound. There is something disturbingly intoxicating about the use of this sound in the distance, while the drumming pounds above it, as if the intention is to silence it. As a live performance, this is a fine recording.
Krause is an experimental composer, whose music has the feel of being determined by mathematical means. The programme notes speak of texture, structure and agitated response. Whatever his compositional methods, this disc has a wide spectrum of colour, variety and contrast. The tracks were mostly recorded at different times and in different venues, but there is no sense of it being a badly assembled composite; on the contrary, the production quality matches well from track to track and the styles flow naturally between works. This is the kind of music that somehow dominates the performers. An audience hearing this for the first time will scarcely be aware of how well it is being played, as the music itself provides a feast for the senses. It is something like a well-oiled machine; the fascination is with the whole, rather than the individual parts. The playing here is consistently admirable from all the performers - surely the biggest compliment to any performer is that they did their job so well that the music became the primary focus. Always convincing, it is clear that the players not only understand the music they are playing, but that they also have the compulsion to communicate that understanding to the listening audience. As a result, this CD serves as an attractive introduction to the work of this particular composer.
Dana McCormick, American Record Guide, Jan/Feb 2008
Ding is percussion music (with clarinet and piano and pre-recorded sounds in three pieces). Drew Krause makes a pretty good case for combining jazz-derivced melodic and rhythmic motices with abstract formal and generative schemes. The composer's interest in Stockhausen is evident. Riddle sounds like what it is, as the note explains: "the intersections between two rhythmic structures, one random and the other highly regular". The result—not just this piece but the program in general—is an interesting combination of the highly repetitive yet unpredictable. I happen to find this quite engaging, but it could easily be irritating to many. The McCormick ensemble, a student ensemble from the University of South Florida, plays tightly. For once "groove"-type rhythms are not handled in a way that embarrasses the composer and listener. The Glass orchestra plys only instruments made entirely of glass, though they sound not unlike ceramic and metal. Go-Round is rather like a festive canon for cowbells.
Blair Sanderson, All Music Guide
As a composer and performer, Drew Krause creates music that many would describe as avant-garde, particularly for its experimental nature, angular style, and hard-edged sounds, generally derived through computer programs or mathematical and musical processes. Yet to think of Krause's 2005 album Ding as the result of cerebral theories or dry data misses much of the music's vitality, color, wit, and invention—essential characteristics readily perceived in this exciting Capstone release. Percussion instruments are at the core of this album, and Krause sometimes sets up a relationship between the percussion and other instruments, as in Ding for piano and percussion (1999), Apocalypso for bass clarinet and drumset (2000), and Drain (2002) for percussion ensemble and computer-generated sound; or builds on tensions within a group, as in Riddle for percussion trio (1993), and First of July (1996) and Go-Round (1999), both for percussion ensemble. The interplay of pitched sonorities and rhythmic ideas is always lively, stimulating, and even exotic, and much of Krause's sound world appears to come from his studies in ethnomusicology and his jazz background, with strong flavors of eastern music and hard bop mixed in with his more academic methods. The spontaneity of Krause as pianist and his performers, the McCormick Percussion Ensemble, the Glass Orchestra, TimeTable, and the duo of bass clarinetist Evan Spritzer and drummer Danny Tunick, contributes greatly to this disc's attractiveness, and open-minded listeners will find this exploratory CD to be a fascinating adventure. In terms of sound, most of the tracks are fairly subdued, though the last track is quite loud and may need a lower volume setting.