Tigran Mansurian's music is rooted in Armenian folk and church music filtered through contemporary Europeans, especially Bartók. In many respects he resembles other post-Soviet composers like Schnittke and Svirdov, sharing their combination of elusiveness and accessibility. Kim Kashkashian has long championed his works, and the outstanding violist is superb here. She's the center of gravity in the Viola Concerto, titled "…and then I was in time again," a quote from Faulkner and resembling his stream-of-consciousness style. The complex interplay of soloist and 18 strings fascinates, the two going their own ways and coming together again in unpredictable fashion but always to expressive effect. It's in two movements, the first more dramatic, the second poignant. In Lachrymae,.. –Dan Davis
Kim Wilde's second album didn't score any hits on the level of the debut's "Kids in America," although the dramatic "Cambodia" was a sort of cult favorite in some circles. That said, it's a far better album than the patchy debut; the songs, again by brother Rikki Wilde with occasional collaborations by father Marty Wilde, don't have the bubblegum tinge that colored much of 1981's Kim Wilde. The arrangements are more synth-oriented, at times approaching the dark atmospherics of Japan or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The occasionally melodramatic lyrics cover topics like police brutality and paranoia – unsurprisingly, new insights aren't much in evidence – and even the love songs, like the delicate "View from a Bridge," aren't exactly happy. The overall vibe of this album is so chilly that the one basically upbeat song, "Can You Come Over," sounds really out of place, but overall, it works. Wilde sings with a clinical detachment here that suits her voice quite well; whenever Wilde tries to emote musically, the results sound forced and melodramatic, but her icy edge on this album is surprisingly appealing.
There's no doubt many heard Kim Wilde searching for the beat on "Kids in America," but know now that she finds it – thus, the rest of this sterling debut comes dangerously close in quality to that killer kickoff. The second cut, "Water on Glass," follows the sound from the wild streets to Wilde's brain, maintaining a high level of exuberant class. Weird staccato runs down the streets of "Our Town," while "Everything We Know" chills into an icy groove. Wilde only wants to be free in "Young Heroes," and by side two's single, "Chequered Love," she gives permission to touch her and do anything (surprising, considering her pro-pop dad and brother wrote the whole LP). Hard guitars and xylophones get physical, until horns and ska skip into "2-6-5-8-0"; by this point in the record, Wilde can pull off anything she wants, and ends up sounding like a No Doubt B-side. "You'll Never Be So Wrong" mellows the turgid tempo but not the precise passion, and she just plain gets upset in "Falling Out." From the womb to the end of "Tuning in Turning On," Kim Wilde is one excellent inaugural, one excellent chapter in the evolution of hi-NRG, and one excellent slab everyone should own.