Various Artists, Wolfe: The String Quartets

Brian Wise

By Brian Wise

on 01.18.11 in Reviews
Classical minimalism that reminds of Iron Maiden

Julia Wolfe, the co-founder of Bang on a Can, along with David Lang and Michael Gordon, claims Led Zeppelin, Beethoven and Motown music as her formative influences. But listening to “Dig Deep,” a one-movement string quartet commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, one is mostly reminded of heavier stuff: metal bands like Iron Maiden or Metallica. Like Andriessen, Wolfe’s esthetic is a highly dissonant brand of minimalism, thick in texture and just plain loud. The opening five minutes is just a series of blistering power chords that become increasingly disjoined and fragmented. Soon an all-out struggle ensues, leaving the listener (and no doubt the performer) exhausted.