A brilliant place to start for the uninitiated

Charlemagne Palestine (a noted early minimal composer and conceptual artist) took a break from music for a number of years to focus on his fascinating installations. The last three or four years have seen him return to his minimal roots with a series of brilliant new releases that are varied in their execution, but fairly united in their conception. Pieces tend to range from 45 to 75 minutes in length on compact disc and deal with various aspects of the creation of the drone and its ability to seemingly alter aspects of time. "Maximin" comes as a bit of a surprise. David Coulter and Jean-Marie Mathoul have reconfigured moments from three of the previous new Palestine records with his blessing and participation. Using those records as templates, they have distilled the pieces into anywhere from two-and-a-half to 12-minute sections, then subtly added additional drones, loops, guitars, pianos, etc. One would think that this would drastically alter the intent of the music (Reich re-mixed anyone?), yet they've managed to very faithfully adhere to the spirit of the original pieces. Highlights include the reworked versions of Palestine's "Jamaica Heinekens in Brooklyn" in which Palestine wandered around during the famed annual West Indian Day Parade with a tape recorder and then applied a drone to the proceedings, and Palestine's very beautiful and odd singing on "Karenina." Hopefully, by shortening the length of the tracks, and in a sense compiling his recent output, the music of Charlemagne Palestine will reach a much wider audience than what he has thus been granted. A brilliant place to start for the uninitiated. [MK]