Susumu Yokota, "Song of the Sleeping Forest"

Albums that recontextualize or remix classical works are losing propositions at worst and briefly moving experiments at best. Perhaps it's for the same reason old films, recorded at slow frame rates, look far worse, not far better, in HD. Or perhaps it's the nature of the format itself: it's impossible to supplant to home speakers music intended solely for cavernous concert halls.

And yet efforts are still made to pull it off. Occasionally, the results are interesting, as with Hiroshi Fujiwara's Classical Dub Classics, which resisted the temptation of taking symphonies' convenient snares and converting them into the four-on-the-floor techno rhythms. Or Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald's ReComposed, which sculpted Ravel and Mussorgsky into twentieth-century ambient.

I'm surprised to find myself so captivated by Symbol, an album by Susumu Yokota (横田 進) from 2005. Artfully, deftly, he weaves homages to the old into tapestries of the new and snakes through history in a fashion that's both casual and spirited. The album has an inspired crackle.

My favorite piece is "Song of the Sleeping Forest," which references Tchaikovsky's "Pas de Deux."
Listen to it all.