Philip Glass is a composer whose work, or at least his early work, has been termed “minimalist.” He has had several operas produced, published one album that could fairly be called “pop” music in as much as he collaborated with Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, David Byrne and Laurie Anderson. This isn’t that.

Glass was referenced in a recent Musical Interlude about the new album from Tool, so I thought it would be appropriate to feature him, since I know that very few people have heard his music. (Or you’ve heard his music, and don’t know who he is.)

This song is “Island” by Philip Glass from the 1981 album Glassworks. This isn’t how I was first introduced to Glass, but this album was intended to introduce his work to a larger audience. It works. A newer “expanded edition” is available, but I’m not familiar with the new songs.

Koyaanisqatsi (Cover of the Main Theme)

I love the movie Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, but then I saw it shortly after it came out. It was groundbreaking in its day. Well, and I love the music of Philip Glass. Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi Indian word that means “Life out of balance.” It was the first of 3 “Qatsi” movies.

This is the main theme from the movie, as covered by Italian guitarist Maurizio Brunod, from his 1999 album Visionaire.

The final scene in the movie includes a reprise of the opening theme. Can be found at this link.

Pruit-Igoe, Experimental Film, Music and Socialism

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance is a 1982 experimental film that features the music of Philip Glass. His music was fairly radical in the 1980s, but lately I’ve been hearing echoes of some of his work in popular music. (At least the music I listen to.)

This is “Pruit-Igoe” from the soundtrack of Koyaanisqatsi The video – also from the movie – is mostly of the destruction of the Pruit-Igoe public-housing projects in Saint Louis, MO. Socialism has been on my mind recently – due mainly to stuff in my social-media feed. And this video I think sums up the legacy of socialism in America. (More thoughts after the video).

The ugliness of the architecture, known as Brutalism. You can almost see the dream. Parks. Playgrounds. But the dream didn’t become reality.

The Wendell O. Pruitt Homes and William Igoe Apartments (Pruit-Igoe) were completed in 1956, saw its peak occupancy in 1957 and immediately started to decline. The project was demolished over several years in the mid 1970s. It looks like the apartment blocks you would find in a Warsaw Pact Country. (If the Warsaw Pact still existed.) And for good reason. It was created by the same mindset. It is architecture designed by a government committee.

When you see a picture of the entire complex – it took up 57 acres – it is hard to fathom how anyone could think this would be a good idea. But then nothing is so impervious to suggestion that they might want to consider a different path than a .gov bureaucracy. Why would you think warehousing people is a good idea? (I would embed the photo here, but WP is still being a bit wonky about images.)