Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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David Behrman

  • On the Other Ocean/Figure in a Clearing [Lovely Music, 1978] A-
  • Leapday Night [Lovely Music, 1987] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

On the Other Ocean/Figure in a Clearing [Lovely Music, 1978]
On Discreet Music and the Fripp collaborations, Eno taught me to appreciate this kind of semiimprovised, semielectric, semiminimal trance and/or background music, but I think Behrman, a Soho/California composer who uses computers for chance input and builds his own synthesizers, does it better. Certainly his textures are more interesting, without any hint of unseemly lushness--or of Glass-type climaxes, for that matter. Steady as she goes. A-

Leapday Night [Lovely Music, 1987]
The problem with semipopular minimalism, new age, snooze music, whatever, isn't its quietude--nothing wrong with a record that lowers your pulse rate if that's what you're up for. But its acolytes aren't on very friendly terms with their brains--when their music isn't just stupid, it pampers the vaguer emotions. Behrman's a poetic intellectual, a post-Cagean electronic composer whose moods and textures are generous enough for semipop--or for sentimentality, some "rigorous" academic rivals might sniff, as if they'd know. These computerized synth pieces interact with live violin on "Interspecies Smalltalk," live trumpet on "Leapday Night." The former is like Behrman's On the Other Ocean/Figure in a Clearing with spontaneity built in, the latter like Miles's "Yesternow" or "Shhh/Peaceful" on a floppy. Bye, Michael Hedges. Pack it in, Durutti Column. A-