A favorite of David Bowie’s, apparently and Crumb, an American composer, pointedly referred to it being written in a time of war. The presumption has come to be that he meant Viet Nam, but who knows really? It was finished on a Friday the 13th in 1970. The entire world was upside down. Or maybe he meant internal strife.
It’s not an easy listen and may surprise you if you aren’t familiar with George Crumb, and/or have an entirely different experience with string quartets. Black Angels is surely not easy listening. It’s got an energy I’d say is closer to Machine Gun, from JIMI HENDRIX’ BAND OF GYPSIES than any string music I’m familiar with. Band of Gypsies was released, by the way, less than two weeks after Black Angels, and was also inspired by the Viet Nam War, so there was definitely a running theme that year.
This piece is my only real experience of George Crumb. I always intended to explore further, but man the world is fast and furious and dipping into a music exploration on the web is like standing in a riptide. You can get sucked out in any old direction, and then you have to swim parallel to the shore and very rarely come out of the water anywhere near where you went in.
I actually prefer life that way, so no worries.