By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
nspired by seeing the Ramones at CBGBs, noted composer Rhys Chatham was one of the first to see the value of the electrified guitar in a neo-classical setting. His early '80s work, including most of what's included on this impressive reissue, was a bracingly loud, textured assault that influenced a horde of likeminded N.Y.C. weirdos such as Sonic Youth and Band of Susans.
In the alternative tunings and mass avalanches of sound contained on Die Donnergotter (German for the Thunder Gods), Chatham created a whole new subtext for modern classical music. And unlike the stuffy, pseudo-intellectual wallpaper of minimalists such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley, this stuff rocks. Besides the twenty-one epic minutes of the title track, this set also includes 1977's "Guitar Trio," a mass strumming of open chords that laid down a blueprint for nearly everything that would later be labeled as "post punk."
By infesting stodgy minimalism with not only an army of guitars but also a rock-solid rhythm section, Rhys Chatham made art that spoke to both the disaffected punks of the Lower East Side as well as the conceptual crowd who was in severe need of a deafening kick in the ass. Die Donnergotter is brilliantly awash in a repetitive, propulsive noise that still sounds as fresh and edgy as it did nearly 30 years ago.
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