This Week’s Best Albums: December 30, 2008

This Week's Best Albums

Michael Nyman: The Piano Concerto (MN) [reissue]

This gets a domestic re-release late in January, but impatient fans of this English composer/pianist can purchase an import (titled Pianokonsert) starting today.  Nyman is a musically far-flung, often minimalist composer, penning concertos, string quartets, chamber works, film scores, and operas.

Naturally, The Piano Concerto is a piece that Nyman wrote for his native instrument, performed at a 1993 concert by pianist Kathryn Stott with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.  The work was based on material from Nyman’s soundtrack for The Piano, a winner of three Oscars, and it’s a wonderful piece that routinely changes rhythm and melody.

Tommy Guerrero: Year of the Monkey EP (Galaxia) [reissue]

Skateboarding star Tommy Guerrero has also found success with his second love, creating a spell-binding combination of acoustic rock, hip hop, and a touch of bossa nova and Latin music.  This 2005 EP, originally released on Galaxia Records, now gets a Japanese pressing with two bonus tracks.

Tommy Guerrero: “Knives Fighting Guns” (sample)

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Gonin-Ish: Naishiyo-Sekai (Season of Mist) [reissue]

This Japanese progressive-metal quintet gets a Western release of its 2005 album. Like other acts with countless influences, Gonin-Ish is capable of wearing whatever mask it prefers at any moment. Any given tune could lead classical piano into mosh-inducing breakdowns and jazz fusion akin to the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

At times, the group sounds a bit like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, for better or worse, but that comparison does not do justice to the Tokyo-based quintet’s cultural convergence.

Gonin-Ish: “Jinbaika”

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