John Adams, Hoodoo Zephyr

Seth Colter Walls

By Seth Colter Walls

on 08.08.11 in Reviews

Hoodoo Zephyr

John Adams

With operas, symphonies and solo piano pieces that are so well loved, you’d think Adams’s compositional hand created gold no matter what it turned to. Erm, not so. His album of electronic music, Hoodoo Zephyr, is pretty widely mocked as a fogey’s dabbling. (So is his piece for string quartet with programmed percussion, “John’s Book of Alleged Dances,” and his gooey-liberal, purported attempt at a “high school musical,” entitled “I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky”).

But … shhh, some of Hoodoo Zephyr is actually hypnotic. Opener “Coast” reveals a composer making some sense out of pop flourishes. “Disappointment Lake” has some neat ideas about drone tucked within its first half (before going a bit limp). The jangly, farting ragtime synths of “Bump” are…an acquired taste you may not want to actually acquire. But you know what? It’s also kind of endearing to listen to this stuff, the imperfections of which humanize a dude who’s otherwise been praised to the high heavens for decades now.