William Orbit Pieces in a Modern Style (Maverick)
Pieces in a Modern Style (Maverick)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., June 2, 2000
Pieces in a Modern Style (Maverick)William Orbit has been shaping dance music quietly but consistently for more than two decades, bending electronica on a whim with amazing results. His astonishingly diverse remix and production credits include Prince, Erasure, Jimmy Sommerville, Depeche Mode, Belinda Carlisle, and Peter Gabriel before taking home the Best Pop Album and Best Dance Recording Grammys in 1998 for Madonna's Ray of Light. Impressive as those names are, they don't begin to suggest the familiarity with which he takes on John Cage, Erik Satie, Ravel, Vivaldi, Handel, and Beethoven. Orbit imbues each of the classics with ambient grace and a distinctly modern edge while neatly avoiding the synthesizer trap; Pieces in a Modern Style isn't "Hooked on Classics 2000" by any stretch of the imagination. Orbit dabbles in opera with the languorous "Cavalleria Rusticana," and gives John Cage's "In a Landscape" a pulsing pop flavor. A bit of attached whimsy comes on a second CD in the form of two dance mixes of opening track "Adagio for Strings," where both Ferry Corsten and Andre Tanneberger put trance spins on the Samuel Barber composition. Even the title is a play on Henryk Gorecki's "Piece in an Old Style 1" and "Piece in an Old Style 3," both performed with contemporary panache. Amazingly, this album was recorded five years ago and lay fallow as Orbit tried to find a home for it until his Grammy made him bankable and Maverick picked it up. The future of classical music is always iffy when viewed from the pop spectrum, but bank on Pieces In a Modern Style showing up on many year-end best-of lists.