Floats Between Classical and Electronic: A New Perspective

Floats Between Classical and Electronic: A New Perspective

The Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz’s “Asturias” is known for its unmistakable rapid guitar runs that evoke the melancholy of flamenco. In this version, however, layered synthesizer sounds and strings are added. The strings start gently, become more powerful and pompous, and then fade away with a powerful drumbeat, leaving only an arpeggio sequence from the synthesizer.

This can be heard on “Thylacine and 74 musicians”, the new album by William Rezé, known by his stage name Thylacine. The 31-year-old French native has made a name for himself as an imaginative producer of electronic music. He recorded his debut album “Transsiberian” on the Trans-Siberian Railway over two weeks in 2015, capturing the sounds of his numerous stops between Moscow and Vladivostok, from subway noises to shamanic chants.

In 2020, the classically trained saxophonist dedicated himself to the giants of European music history on “Timeless”, supporting Beethoven, Satie and Mozart with electronic beats. His latest album, which will be released on February 16th, was recorded live and created during a joint performance by Thylacine with the Orchester National des Pays de la Loire. The conductor and arranger Uèle Lamore played a key role in this.

The album floats between the electronic and the classical, largely based on the melodic material of the works that Thylacine uses. This becomes clear in the violin concerto Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, interpreted in a breathtaking way by violinist Luka Faulisi. The soloist and orchestra are the focus of this, as well as the other pieces by Mozart, Handel and Verdi that are represented on the album.

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Thylacine cleverly integrates his synthesizers, whose timbre often closely resembles that of the orchestral instruments. However, the drum machine background, which usually only creeps in in the second half of the pieces, lacks rhythmic accents and offers formulaic, catchy beats that provide a steady tempo but little complexity.

This is more successful on the pieces written by Thylacine himself and refurbished on “Thylacine and 74 musicians”. “War Dance”, for example, originally released on the album “9 Pieces” last year, features a piano and drums playing rapid, syncopated beats before Thylacine picks up the saxophone and lets it howl in a great arc of tension. On “Pleyel”, Thylacine allows the piano to act as a rhythmic instrument, providing a foundation for another saxophone solo with isolated drum beats and staccato rising strings.

In 2018, Berlin-based Henrik Schwarz and the Metropole Orkest orchestra showed with “Scripted Orchestra” how the interface between electronic sound design and orchestral music-making can be explored innovatively. Thylacine continues this unusual approach with original ideas, but occasionally drifts into cliché.

Live, the symbiosis brought to the stage by the Frenchman with various ensembles is definitely worth experiencing. The album will appeal to music enthusiasts excited by unusual adaptations of the classical canon and orchestral interpretations of sounds from electronic music.