New York composer Michael Vincent Waller took it Easy on us at first, but the arrival of his debut full length recording The South Shore is a bold surprise. Between 2012 and 2014, Waller had composed enough chamber works to fill a double album. The 31 pieces, stretching over two hours, are performed by a rotating cast of ensembles including 20>>21, Project Sis, and Red Desert. A majority of these so-called miniatures revolve around strings and piano, though there is room for flute, clarinet, and organ.
Five Easy Pieces feels like a distant exercise now because The South Shore is the sound of the entire world stopping and taking the time to have a good cry. Waller’s melodies are stretching out but remain concise enough to stay with you long after the point of contact. Labeling the music as “romantic” threatens to do what all labeling does—pigeonhole. But by side-stepping the flowery sentiments of yesterday and the atonal abrasions of today, Michael Vincent Waller has made a strong case for modern classicism. Don’t bother looking that genre up; just go visit The South Shore.