Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Philip Glass: North Star [Virgin, 1977]
Rock ears take to this avant-garde composer because he understands electronic sound in a melodic context and loves rhythm, a rhythm achieved--like the hypnotic/mystical mood of the music as a whole--not through percussion but through mechanical repetitions cunningly modified. There is natural drama here, but Glass never indulges it, which is why he appeals to Eno's side of the "progressive" spectrum rather than to Keith Emerson's. What Eno fans may find hard to take--and what I find doubly admirable--is that this music refuses to fade into the background; it's rich, bright, and demanding despite its austerity. Onward. A-