Someday someone will appear who has analyzed more minimalist-influenced music from the 1980s and '90s than I have, and if that person feels that I have divided my era into categories inappropriately, I will be glad to listen to her argument. So far, I've gotten plenty of argument, but only from people who don't come anywhere close to fitting that description.
Now, don't write in and tell me you don't like these pieces. Who cares if you like these pieces? Do I care if you like these pieces? Do I, Kyle Gann, personally give a shit whether you like these pieces? No. No, my friend. I do not give a shit whether you like these pieces.
It often has been remarked that only in politics and the "arts" does the layman regard himself as an expert, with the right to have his opinion heard. In the realm of politics he knows that this right, in the form of a vote, is guaranteed by fiat. Comparably, in the realm of public music, the concertgoer is secure in the knowledge that the amenities of concert going protect his firmly stated "I didn't like it" from further scrutiny. Imagine, if you can, a layman chancing upon a lecture on "Pointwise Periodic Homeomorphisms." At the conclusion, he announces: "I didn't like it," Social conventions being what they are in such circles, someone might dare inquire: "Why not?" Under duress, our layman discloses precise reasons for his failure to enjoy himself; he found the hall chilly, the lecturer's voice unpleasant, and he was suffering the digestive aftermath of a poor dinner. His interlocutor understandably disqualifies these reasons as irrelevant to the content and value of the lecture, and the development of mathematics is left undisturbed. If the concertgoer is at all versed in the ways of musical lifesmanship, he also will offer reasons for his "I didn't like it" - in the form of assertions that the work in question is "inexpressive," "undramatic," "lacking in poetry," etc., etc., tapping that store of vacuous equivalents hallowed by time for: "I don't like it, and I cannot or will not state why." The concertgoer's critical authority is established beyond the possibility of further inquiry.
Okay, I keed, I keed. Babbittian crankiness aside, Kyle's Postminimalism: Chapter One, Metaphorically Speaking is a first-rate piece of analysis, tracing some specific commonalities between composers whose music sounds very different indeed and making some incisive observations about postminimalism as a kind of do-over of serialism, but without all the Germanic angst. He also hosts audio of one of the pieces under discussion -- Belinda Reynolds's "Cover." While it breaks my heart to know that Kyle Gann does not, personally, give a shit whether I like this piece, I like this piece. A lot. It's pretty kickass, actually.
Anyway, never mind the occasional cantankerous outburst, just go read. It's worth it, I promise. Or if you just want to hear the MP3 of "Cover," scroll down to just before the string of asterisks. This is, BTW, the title track from Belinda's most recent CD, which you can get here.
(As an aside, am I the only one having nightmares about this picture of Unca Milt?)