Bryce Dessner: Aheym

Album Review of Bryce Dessner: Aheym by Kronos Quartet.

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Bryce Dessner: Aheym

Kronos Quartet

Bryce Dessner: Aheym by Kronos Quartet

Release Date: Nov 5, 2013
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Classical, Avant-Garde, Chamber Music, Modern Composition

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Bryce Dessner: Aheym - Very Good, Based on 7 Critics

Paste Magazine - 85
Based on rating 85%%
85

Of all modern classical groups, Kronos Quartet have been the most visible, the most ambitious and the most surprising. Founded in 1973, they have worked with brilliant shipmates including Philip Glass, David Bowie and Björk, brazenly sailing through the uncomfortable space between modern pop and classical music. In Aheym, they bring their unconventional skill set to a collaboration with Bryce Dessner, a guitarist and songwriter for The National, to do something very different from his indie-rock bandmates.

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Filter - 85
Based on rating 85%%
85

Of all modern classical groups, Kronos Quartet have been the most visible, the most ambitious and the most surprising. Founded in 1973, they have worked with brilliant shipmates including Philip Glass, David Bowie and Björk, brazenly sailing through the uncomfortable space between modern pop and classical music. In Aheym, they bring their unconventional skill set to a collaboration with Bryce Dessner, a guitarist and songwriter for The National, to do something very different from his indie-rock bandmates.

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Pitchfork - 79
Based on rating 7.9/10
79

Bryce Dessner's day job as a guitarist in the National requires him to work in big, sweeping rock-song arcs, but he's also a classical composer, and in his side work—working on commssions for the American Composers Orchestra, collaborating on David Lang records—you can hear a furiously complicated musical mind chattering. Dessner's sensibility as a composer is furtive, urgent, intense—nothing at all, in other words, like his rock band. The National's sound has always been mellow and rich, a rock band as a foaming, blooming cup of pour-over coffee.

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Under The Radar - 65
Based on rating 6.5/10
65

Perhaps you know Bryce Dessner as one fifth of indie rock laureates The National. But don't assume the Ohio-born guitarist cut his teeth plucking out grunge tunes in his parents' garage—Yale doesn't hand out master's degrees in music for nothing, after all..

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AllMusic - 60
Based on rating 6/10
60

Bryce Dessner is a guitarist with the alternative-rock and Americana band the National, and this album with the Kronos Quartet appears not on its longtime label home of Nonesuch but on the rock-oriented Anti imprint. The sound, from the standpoint of classical music, is a bit overheated, but Dessner certainly fits with the quartet's long-term goals of commissioning music from younger composers and generally reaching out to music lovers of whatever genre. Each work has a fairly specific program.

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PopMatters - 60
Based on rating 6/10
60

A gripe aimed at pop musicians who take a stab at composing classical music is that they approach it from a pop-minded point of view, i.e., simplistic. In the case of the National guitarist Bryce Dessner, you’d have a hard time making those accusations stick since he was never fully immersed in the pop world to begin with. He graduated from Yale with a master’s degree in music and has immersed himself in the world of contemporary classical music by rubbing elbows with Steve Reich, Jonny Greenwood, Nico Muhly and now the unshakable Kronos Quartet.

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Consequence of Sound - 58
Based on rating C+
58

Perhaps one of the underlying themes of The National’s excellent Trouble Will Find Me is the reality of both the emotional and existential cycles that folks are pretty much doomed to face. The adventurous instruments imply some sort of journey for transcendence, but frontman Matt Berninger’s croaks suggest confinement — a man who’s trapped, yet optimistically looks at the outside world through a barred window. “I am secretly in love with everyone I grew up with,” he informs on “Demons” before later saying “When I walk into a room/ I do not light it up” in a resigned baritone.

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