New “classical” compositions on vinyl? Yep, here’s the First String Quartet by Gabriel Prokofiev, London-based grandson of the great Sergei. There’s a polycarbonate release of the complete quartet, but the vinyl incarnation includes only two movements of it. Along with— get this—four computer-derived, digitally layered “remixes” of the music set to hip- hop dance beats. Like his grandfather, Gabriel has a strong iconoclastic streak, making a string quartet, most hallowed of classic genres, into a source of communal variations suitable for gyrating youths in a strobe-light-lit dance club is a deliberately subversive act.
The music itself is minimalist, with much herky-jerky lurching along to a steady pulse (overlaid with many syncopations) in an amiable, dancing-robots manner. Despite bone-dry timbres and grating dissonances it has some nifty tunes, albeit of a rudimentary sort. In short: clever, edgy, irreverent, category-violating stuff. To my surprise I rather enjoyed it, and the (some quite imaginative) “remixed” variations, too. The Elysian Quartet’s playing is harsh and sandpapery, but suits the idiom. Recorded sound is up-close and hot, with lots of bite and detail but little air.