Isomonstrosity - Isomonstrosity Music Album Reviews

Isomonstrosity - Isomonstrosity Music Album Reviews
An innovative effort to produce a contemporary classical record in the piecemeal style of a rap mixtape ends up sounding both tasteful and weirdly frustrating.

When he’s not creating string flourishes for the likes of Selena Gomez or Shawn Mendes, producer, songwriter, and arranger Johan Lenox has spent his career attempting to bridge the gap between popular and classical music. Before the pandemic, Lenox, conductor Yuga Cohler, and composer Ellen Reid had planned a Lincoln Center concert series featuring classical compositions by pop musicians such as James Blake. As COVID hit, the trio devised a new strategy: a concept record featuring music written by contemporary composers like Bryce Dessner, Wang Lu, and Carlos Simon, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, then forwarded to Lenox, Cohler, and Reid for chopping up. The idea was to make a contemporary classical record in the piecemeal style of a rap mixtape, recruiting guest vocalists including Danny Brown and Empress Of for a collision of voices and genres that would explore loneliness in pandemic times. Despite the conceptual potential and considerable talent involved, the execution is oddly narrow-minded, and Isomonstrosity ends up both tasteful and weirdly frustrating.

Isomonstrosity’s creators aren’t new to genre experimentation: Lenox garnered attention for a Kanye/Beethoven mashup titled Yeethoven, Cohler conducted an orchestral tribute to K-pop, and Reid reinterpreted EDM at a harrowing moment in her Putlizer-winning opera p r i s m. On this record, though, the incorporation of different elements feels surface-level; tinny, hyperpop-inspired percussion and tense string swells are signifiers lacking the substance of the trio’s individual work. “Watch It Burn” with TDE singer Zacari feels invigorating at first, but fails to meaningfully develop beyond its clanging pots and pans, and interludes like “I Hope She Is Sleeping Well” with Danny L Harle don’t deviate much either. “I’m just staring at my breakfast all day/Listening to Brahms and Beyoncé,” Lenox laments on “Careful What You Wish For,” but neither influence is particularly audible.

“Careful” is ambitious in its own way, attempting a three-part structure akin to Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” (a cited influence). Between Danny Brown’s uncharacteristically low-pitched verse, 645AR’s characteristically squeaky one, and Lenox’s own vocoded musings, the erratic structure is more inert than pleasantly jarring. Songs intended as ambitious genre fusions land in an awkward middle ground: Empress Of’s melody on “Take Me Back” clutters the song, betraying its origins as a separate pop track grafted onto Phyllis Chen’s Dessner-composed piano part. More straightforward and much better is “I Used To” with Kacy Hill, an art-pop ballad that gracefully captures the isolation and nostalgia of pandemic lockdown: “I used to go out a lot/I still felt lonely then/But not the way that I’m feeling now.” As Hill’s performance morphs into a love song, the music moves with her, a glimpse of a more thoughtful, methodical approach.

There are other moments of genuine inspiration, particularly in the second half of the record. Cello-generated percussion on “Break Glass” and glitches at the end of “Wake Up” deliver on the promise of classical instrumentation filtered through modern processing; the sound of keyboard typing on closer “Losing My Mind” is endearing, an allusion to the sheer quantity of email required to coordinate an album like this. In that sense, Isomonstrosity most clearly resembles a high-minded version of Fred again…’s Actual Life records, another pandemic-borne project using fragments of other musicians’ work for sporadically affecting sound collages. Isomonstrosity doesn’t often transcend those patchwork origins, but there’s still something compelling in hearing classical musicians figure out how to improvise.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Isomonstrosity - Isomonstrosity Music Album Reviews Isomonstrosity - Isomonstrosity Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 06, 2022 Rating: 5


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