William Susman's 'Scatter My Ashes' is true, undiluted neo-classicalism imbued with Impressionist and romantic overtones / acousticmusic.com
In another review this month, I mention there are certain guitar stylists I don't dare begin listening to unless I'm prepared to go through their entire catalogues: Grant Green, Gabor Szabo, George Benson, etc. That's because I get so damned captivated even despite a deep enamorment for the wild fretbenders (John McLaughlin, Robert Fripp, Ritchie Blackmore, that ilk). Well, the same is true on the progressive music side of the house with cats like Mike Oldfield, Barclay James Harvest, and Phillip Glass, especially Glass. There's just something in how he handles the serial minimal task that aces everyone else (Reich, Adams, Nyman), his work filled with a luminescence particular to the man's genius. However, I also listen closely to all those 'somebody elses' and now can add William Susman to the list of hyper-competent composers broadening an oft-embattled field ('n what the heck is wrong with people that they don't understand the sublime genius of work like this?).
His 2009's Music for Moving Pictures (here) was a knockout, but Scatter My Ashes is definitely more refined into the serial / operatic vein, true undiluted neoclassicalism heavily imbued with Impressionist / Romantic overtones and baselines. There are 18 movements here to four song cycles written between 1992 and 2011, one of them rescored for octet, but, really, everything flows in linear and circular motion as though a beautifully eccentric segmented ballet simultaneously restrained and exuberant, more than once ecstatic. Mellissa Hughes, who has worked with top-shelfers Steve Reich and John Zorn among many others, encants Sue Susman's libretti (two cycles), interesting meditations, at times extended haiku-esque, first on elementalities and then the myriad enigmas of earth's most quizzical life form: human beings and their baffling shenanigans.