The Philip Glass Ensemble conducted by Michael Riesman
Recorded and mixed at The Living Room, NY.
Additional recording at The Complex, LA.
Mastered at Masterdisk, NY. Produced for Euphorbia Productions, Ltd.
Songs From Liquid Days became Philip Glass' most popular and successful recording. The title holds the clue to the music's accessibility: These are songs, providing a more familiar and comfortable format for appreciating the world of minimalism than Glass' operas or instrumental pieces. Working with such lyrical collaborators as David Byrne and Suzanne Vega, he created art music which sounds radio friendly. There is also great variety displayed on this album. While the musical backing is unmistakably Philip Glass, the arrangements and vocal treatments range from the coolly subdued chamber music of "Freezing," featuring the Kronos Quartet and Linda Ronstadt, to the appropriately electrifying and almost new wave-ish "Lightning." The album's highlight, however, is the opener, a ten-minute opus called "Changing Opinion." With unusually oblique lyrics courtesy of Paul Simon, it condenses the odd excitement and drama of a minimalist opera into a single, creative burst of melody, rhythm, and momentum. The minimalist composers originally wanted to reconnect Western art music with a broad, popular audience. On that basis, Songs From Liquid Days may be their single greatest achievement.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Songs are perhaps our most basic musical expression. Though I have worked widely in the fields of opera and music theater, I had not until this last year worked with the song form as such. Writing the song cycle Songs from Liquid Days became for me truly a voyage of discovery.
I began by asking David Byrne to write words that I could then set to music. We had worked together once before, and I found it such an easy and natural collaboration that I thought of extending the process with an entire record of songs.
It seemed to me that the people best suited to help with the lyrics would, like David, be other songwriters. It was clear that they, more than anyone else, would understand the practical demands of setting words to music. The people I asked- Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, David Byrne and Laurie Anderson-are, I feel, not only outstanding songwriters on their own but also lyricists whose poetry reflects individual styles and approaches to songwriting.
The words come first. From these I fashioned a set of six songs which, together, form a cycle of themes ranging from reflections on nature to classic romantic settings. After the music was written, I-along with producer Kurt Munkacsi and conductor Michael Riesman-began the long and difficult process of "casting" singers for the individual songs. We felt that the interpretation a singer brings to a song is an immense contribution to its character-contributing their own personality to the work perhaps more than any other performer.
All in all, Songs from Liquid Days has brought together quite an astonishing assortment of people, from the progressive Kronos String Quartet to singers Linda Ronstadt, Doug Perry and Janice Pendarvis and Bernard Fowler. Among them, they cover a fair range of the contemporary music practiced in our time, from experimental to rock to opera. Add to them the writers already mentioned and one might well ask, "What have they all got in common?"
For me, their commonality is that they are an uncommonly talented group of people-and about as diverse in personal style and practical approach to music-making as you're ever likely to find working together. I personally am very proud of my association with all these artists and, lastly, grateful to them for their contribution to this record.