The Evolution Apparent in Anthony Paul De Ritis’s ‘Devolution’
Q2 Music Album of the Week for June 11, 2012
By Olivia Giovetti via WQXR
Listening to Anthony Paul De Ritis’s Devolution is somewhat akin to watching a Tarsem film: The mixture of influences, references and textures is both blindingly apparent and blindingly gorgeous.
Chords of Dust
But once your eyes get used to staring directly into the sun, your vision adjusts and you’re able to see all of the other manifold, and vital, surrounding details. Likewise, once you’re able to recognize that, yes, you are listening to an orchestra play while a DJ mixes in preexisting recordings of both Ravel’s Bolero and the equally-iconic Allegretto from Beethoven’s Seventh, you hear how they serve as mirrors to the light of De Ritis’s original music.
Once he does, his solo moments take on a similar collaged element. Like any DJ worth his weight in sound samples, Miller riffs on preexisting materials but does so in order to create a new sonic situation that leaves familiar bits seemingly renewed when heard in such out-of-place contexts. While the piece takes its title from a film De Ritis collaborated on called The Devolution of Ethan Chadwick, there is no shortage of evolution in this work.
In that vein, too, is a pair of De Ritis’s shorter, earlier works that accompany Devolution on this latest offering from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. 1994’s Legerdemain, or “Sleight of Hand,” made some prescient use of computerized music that leaves the listener questioning what is performed “live” and what is prerecorded. The corresponding Chords of Dust (1992) takes on evolution in a different sense, inspired as it was by De Ritis’s father’s experiences in World War II and the shifts that came from such a world-changing event, shifts that effected both immortal concepts and mortal people. And it’s in conveying these big ideas, even through what in lesser hands could be seen as gimmickry, that De Ritis truly succeeds.
OTHER RECENT PUBLICITY
Interview on “The New Edge”, with host Ken Field on WMBR 88.1FM out of MIT
Interview on “Sound Notion TV”, a web-based “new music and news” show