Artist: Devonté Hynes & Third Coast Percussion
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: October 11, 2019
Devonté Hynes, perhaps better known as R&B artist Blood Orange, has covered a lot of musical ground in his career. He recently released his fifth album, Angel’s Pulse, under his Blood Orange persona, and he previously produced indie rock music under the name Lightspeed Champion. Many of Dev’s fans might be unaware, however, of his love of classical music and his 2018 debut at the Kennedy Center as one of four pianists performing Philip Glass’s 20 Etudes. Now, with the release of Fields, featuring Hynes collaboration with the Chicago-based ensemble Third Coast Percussion, he makes his recording debut as a composer in the classical music world.
Third Coast Percussion, winner of a 2017 Grammy Award for their album of Steve Reich music, reached out to Hynes to compose music for a collaborative project between the percussion group and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. With music that began on Hynes’ digital audio workstation, and then was arranged and performed by Third Coast Percussion, Fields explores the depth of collaboration between composer and musician. With a seemingly vast array of instruments— including vibraphones, marimbas, crotales, glockenspiel, tuned bowls, glass wind chimes, and many more—Fields weaves together musical textures and timbres in waves of often dreamlike sound.
The most substantial part of this recording is the multi-movement piece, For All Its Fury. The movements swing from delicate and windblown to rough with staticky shadows, biting interjections, and drawn-out moments of pull and release as textures and dynamics play out in each movement. The final movement, “Fields,” from which the title of the album is derived, begins with a flowing soundscape that escalates with sparkling bursts of sound in a rush towards the final arrival.
For All Its Fury is followed by Perfectly Voiceless and There Was Nothing. Throughout these three works, Hynes exhibits the influence of his early exposure to Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Giacomo Puccini, and Philip Glass. With Fields, Dev Hynes captures a sense of imminent arrival; of dawn on the horizon.
Reviewed by Anna Hinkley