Kevin Currie-Knight | Newark, Delaware | 01/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As I'm sure many have noticed, this seems to be the fruitful time to produce multlimedia works to do with technology and alienation. First, Glass and Reggio's Naqoyquatsi, and now 'Three Tales'. I'm sure many review-readers wonder, and a review below asked the question, so I'll answer it. Is this just a -qatsi rip off? Should one simply buy the Glass and skip the Reich? No. These are completely different works - both with seperate strenghts and weaknesses. While the -qatsi films - particularly Naqoyqatsi is dominated by larger than life visuals with the music providing an instrumental backdrop (albeit an active one), with this film, the impact of the music and the visual is about equal. Short answer: buy both if you want both, but the two are definitely not 'clones' of eachother. Now for my obligatory disclosure. Out of the two discs in this set - one CD with the music alone, and one DVD with the entire music and visual combo, my four stars is entirely for THE LAST HALF OF THE DVD! That's only the last 'tale'. Yes, it is that good! For the first two 'tales' Reich sounds very much as he did in "The Cave" (and we all politely smiled at that one!). Though, I'll say that the music and visual go well together in all the tales, the music for the first two is not to my taste. Jumpy, bombastic, and jerky - and why does every dang chord have to be diminished?!? Now to the third tale. "Dolly" pertains to the cloned sheep and the 'tale' has more to do with genomics and the prospect of artificial intellegence than with cloning per se. The music sees Reich returning back to his 'middle days' a la 'Sextet'. Here the music has a steady pulse and is primarily mallet percussion and piano. On top of this, we have short excerpts from interviews of scientists that Reich and Barot did. As one who is quite read on science I enjoyed seeing the likes of Jaron Lanier (pioneer of virtual reality), Richard Dawkins (who recieves brutal treatment, perhaps unjustly), Marvin Minsky, and Steven Pinker. As I am fairly read on science, I do feel that Reich took many of their quotes out of context (remember, we only see short excerpts) but not enough to subtract stars. So as not to ramble, let's sum up. A.) this film is not a '-quatsi on the cheap'. The visual is completely different and is somewhat similar, albeit more high tech, than "The Cave". B.) I did not find the musical style of the first two 'tales' to my taste as they are a cross between 'The Cave', and 'City Life'. C.) The third movement alone is worth the price of this disc/DVD set, particularly if you are interested in science and its personalities. Go get it."
On Steve Reich's "Three Tales"
Arnold Magnet | New Jersey, USA | 11/03/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Weeks before seeing Three Tales I heard its score. The music Reich composed for this opera is slightly less interesting than anything he has published previously. It features incessantly repeating syncopated phrases comprised of annoying melodies tossed upon stagnant, droning tones. This is the best that can be noted of the work. Mr. Reich uses Three Tales to expand his compositional methods into the modern age of the early 1990's. Time-stretched vocals are in every piece. A computerized voice (as that available standard on every Macintosh computer) sings several solos in the Dolly act. Uncomplicated, novice drum programming also hammers into numerous pieces - this is particularly disappointing as Mr. Reich is a competent percussionist himself. From onset to finish the score falls victim to a toybox of mundane digital audio gimmicks - perhaps impressive to the ignorant elite of la musique nouveau but thoroughly boring to anyone willing to acknowledge the radio music of the last two decades [see N'Sync's BT produced "Pop", Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle", Britney Spears' Neptunes produced "Slave", or anything produced for Madonna by William Orbit for far more progressive and successful attempts at integrating DSP (Digital Signal Processing) techniques into music]. Reich and his engineers should understand that these audio effects are not an end in and of themselves, and it shows little respect for the listener to try to pass these off as such.
The greater failing of Three Tales is the video component produced by Beryl Korot. I want to write only a few words on this piece as I have already spent more time on this review than a first grader with iMovie would require to reproduce Ms. Korot's cut and paste disaster. In my life I have watched my father slowly succumb to bone cancer, I see daily attrocities broadcast on the television news and the uncut footage on HBO or the internet. Yet, not for its content but for its design Ms. Korot's video for Three Tales is perhaps the worst thing ever to have struck mine eyes."
Seeing Live is a Treat
Arnold Magnet | 09/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Three Tales in a "live" screening (without the optional live performers) at a festival this past June in Buffalo (in fact, the festival was named, "June in Buffalo"). Reich was one of five resident composers; others included Philip Glass, David Felder, John Corigliano, and Charles Wuorinen. Reich was given an evening of performances by the Buffalo resident performers which included his classic Piano Phase, the more recent Triple Quartet (this version for 12 strings), and of course Three Tales. In fact, Reich's wife, Beryl Korot, the artist responsible for the unforgetable visuals in Three Tales, was also at the festival and was interviewed along with Reich. Although I have not yet purchased this particular CD/DVD set, I intend to do so immediately on account of its brilliant combination of music, visual art, and intellectual "storyline." Covering a range in topics from the nuclear testing at Bikini, the Hindenburg (excuse my spelling if it is incorrect) Disaster, and cloning, this politically charged work leaves most audience members touched in an excitingly new way.Reich's music is captivating and a significant bit "newer" than is typical in his evolution from piece to piece. I highly recommend this possible future masterpiece to anyone interested in good art."
What about Three Tales makes it
Kevin Currie-Knight | 12/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Three Tales is a video/music work.
In the first part of the work, (Hindenberg blimp crashing) archive video and audio footage of the Zepplin, newspapers, radio broadcasts, and even a small interview with a German woman, are used in original form and in mass variations. All of these are interpolated musically and visually.In the second part of the work, archive video and audio again are used - stills and video are combined in many instances. This section deals with the U.S. government's atomic bomb tests in the Bikini Atoll. Interpolation of audio and video. In the third section of the work (Dolly), many important scientists and computer researchers are interviewed. These interviews not only adress the central moral and ethical issues of our times but also they are spliced and mixed up together. There is a complex texture of idea vs. idea, as various scientists and experts give their opinions. All of this is woven into a very nice video and audio presentation. The central issue of this work is stated very well in a recurring theme througout - the choice Adam and Eve were given - wether to eat the fruit of knowledge or not to eat it. Here we are again under the tree, at the end of the day. (and so on)I believe that this work does a very fine job at expressing man's modern dilemma - that is - will our curiosity end up killing the cat? This piece is, above all, a warning - caution. This is not your average piece of art - this goes beyond - watch out - it just might fly, very fast,over head. Be warned."
An Opinion - What is Three Tales about?
Arnold Magnet | 01/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many people will view this DVD and get nothing out of it. Which is really rather a shame. This piece is actually about SOMETHING. It is not about music and visuals. Reich and Korot are trying to express something (I'm quite sure of it). There are many references to the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge. Personally, I believe that this Garden of Eden story is an allegory on the theme of "will man destroy himself by way of his own curiosity or drive for 'knowledge'?"
I feel that Three Tales is one of these such allegories. What will we do with ourselves and our newly gotten, and perhaps, ill-gotten knowledge? "The sin of Adam - in eating - was that he was too hasty." - Adin Steinsaltz In the last tale, right at the end of the work, Cynthia Breazeal asks her robot baby, Kismet, "how is your day going? - you got it all planned out? maybe you'll play with your yellow toy?" This sums up the work quite well.One last thing, I have never understood is all of the comparison of Reich to Glass and Glass to Reich. They are two completely different birds. They ride on seperate tracks of thought. Honestly, there are extreme worlds of difference between Glass and Reich."