Imagine multiple collisions of musical worlds where sparks fly and mediations flow through secret pulses dictated by a magic square. This is the world of Secret Pulse where composer Zack Browning presents a dramatic music of rhythmically-charged pop-inspired riffs battling transcendental melodies. Each composition can be compared to a spider’s web; musically spinning out events whose design is based on a secret pulse derived from the birth dates of the performers using the Lo Shu Square and feng shui.
The special connection between the virtuosic performers on this CD and the music is captured in their powerful performances. Ensemble Unity of Taiwan rocks on the Hakka folksong “Cutting Flowers” in Hakka Fusion. The Cadillac Moon Ensemble becomes speed devils in Secret Pulse and then makes it funky in Moon Thrust and its use of Van Morrison’s “Moondance”. The JACK Quartet both mesmerizes and marvels in their interpretation of the String Quartet, moving effortlessly from soft chorales to loud funk. In Flying Tones, the UCF Percussion Ensemble grooves and grinds then provides a personal and moving rendition of the UCF Alma Mater. The four ensembles consist of musical all stars whose performances on this CD are extraordinary.
The music of Zack Browning is described as “way-cool in attitude” and “speed-demon music” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and “propulsive, giddy, rocking…, a rush of cyclic riffs and fractured meters” (The New York Times). The Irish Times has proclaimed he is “bringing together the procedures of high musical art with the taste of popular culture”. Browning’s composition awards have included two Illinois Arts Council Composer Fellowships, a Chamber Music America Commission, and two Arnold O. Beckman Awards and two FAA Fellowships from the University of Illinois. Performances include the Bonk Festival of New Music (Tampa), the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival (Miami), International Computer Music Conference (New Orleans), Spark Festival (Minneapolis), Gaudeamus Music Week (Amsterdam), Composers Choice Festival (Dublin), Sonorities Festival (Belfast) , Skinneskatteberg Festival (Sweden), Asian Contemporary Music Festival (Seoul), and National Chiang Kai Shek Cultural Center (Taipei).
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“[B]ouncy and exuberant - some of the music sounds like dance tracks for androids with varying numbers of feet - it has a seductive sort of grace.” [FULL ARTICLE]
“The music is for the most part hyperkinetic, quirkily hurtling forward, with startling, unpredictable juxtapositions whose oddness is almost guaranteed to make the listener smile … fascinating, dynamic, and often beautiful material.” [FULL ARTICLE]
THE BIG CITY
“[A] nice balance of the intellectual and the hip.”
"[S]hook everything in my listening room that wasn’t nailed down”
“This music is complex though not overdone, with a je-ne-sais-quoi that makes it very accessible. Highly recommended, especially to RIO fans.”
GAPPLEGATE CLASSICAL-MODERN MUSIC REVIEW
"Zack Browning … gives us a chamber music that partakes of minimalist recurrence but alters the mesmerizing trance inducement of sameness by cutting rapidly from contrasting section to contrasting section … It is more a somewhat overwrought excitement that is generated in the music than a linear-logical narrative horizontality … If Morton Feldman's later music felt like a leisurely scan of the patterns of a Persian rug, Zack Browning's music is like a rapid traversal of landscape changes in a low-flying jet." [FULL ARTICLE]
"Seconda prova del compositore Zac Browing per la sempre agguerritissima Innova, convincente quanto, se non di più, della prima. Intatti i connotati già allora palesati: un costruttivismo esplicito, perfino dichiarato dall’autore, che si stempera nella scelta dei materiali sottoposti alla geometrica ars combinatoria dell’autore. Browning attinge infatti a piene mani dal rock, dal funk, dal jazz, di cui restituisce tutta l’energia ritmica e la freschezza melodica; qui, ad esempio, cita l’indimenticabile Moondance di Van Morrison, nonché temi popolari meno conosciuti. Il tutto sfocia in un post-minimalismo che non corre il rischio di essere ripetitivo, sebbene una certa uniformità di atmosfera caratterizzi i 5 brani presentati, dove forte è la presenza delle percussioni. Ma si tratta comunque di un’atmosfera elettrizzante, che invoglia ad altri ascolti di questo interessante compositore." [FULL ARTICLE]