February 11, 2012

Warning: Consuming Kick & Ride (the Boston Modern Orchestra Project's newest recording that features three drum-heavy works by Eric Moe) while in anything even hinting at a bad mood could lead to broken mugs at Starbucks, holes in apartment walls or shoving matches on a downtown 6 train platform.

Tread with caution. Otherwise it's completely easy to succumb to the beats and rhythms that come out of Moe's fantastical imaginarium, a headspace that ties together the free-flowing atonality of Alban Berg with the guttural rumblings of Samuel Barber's Medea, adding in a healthy dose of superhuman strength. Such feats of daring are immediately apparent in Superhero, a five-part work based on the comic book characters of Moe's youth (born in 1954, he was primed for a childhood spent in the DC and Marvel universes), placing one such nameless crusader in a Straussian Heldenleben context.

As Moe professes in his program notes, however, the effect is slated to be "affectionate and serious, not ironic," a detail that comes clearly across in the fourth movement, "Existential Crisis (What's It All For?)." Much like the third act of Adams's Nixon in China, this movement solidifies the heart behind Moe's hero's journey and the complex nature of these seemingly one-dimensional figures immortalized on newsprint.

Following a twelve-and-a-half minute interlude in Eight Point Turn, which builds up percussion to a fever pitch, we see the full percussive potential of BMOP's Robert Schulz in Kick & Ride, a work that jolts with frenetic, buoyant energy, running at a pace that seems to be unsustainable, abetted by the back-and-forth between drum set and orchestra. At times primal and ritualistic and others sophisticated and smoky, this unbridled trio will fuel whatever flames you're currently fanning.