“Among downtown New York composers,” writes David Patrick Stearns in Sunday’s (11/15) Philadelphia Inquirer, “few stick so relentlessly to the cutting edge as Julia Wolfe. … Full Dark Ride, her new compact disc on the Cantaloupe label, is nothing but music for the oddest of ensembles—four drum sets, six pianists, or eight double basses—and it had no typical album-release party last week. Live Wolfe performances popped up in furniture showrooms and art galleries around Manhattan. … In Dark Full Ride, Wolfe treats her ensembles like a giant super-instrument, with eight basses exploring a circumscribed range of sound in an exhaustively minimalist rumble writ so large as to feel apocalyptic. … Only now is Wolfe integrating her counterculture beginnings, the wild experiments of recent decades, and her musical maturity in a piece titled Steel Hammer, a full-evening work commissioned by Carnegie Hall, where it will be heard Saturday at the end of an East Coast tour. Besides employing folk instruments, the piece uses visual and video elements designed to make Carnegie’s Zankel Hall feel like a gathering around a campfire.”

Posted November 20, 2009