What the critics said about the music of James Grigsby

"Is is really possible that a rock musician sought to disguise so-called "serious" music in the trappings of the vernacular? Such a claim could be met with skepticism from the academic community. Yet such a musician exists in the person of James Grigsby, and the music Grigsby has produced ... should be considered part of the Western art-music tradition rather than the rock tradition ... evidenced by its formal, motivic, and harmonic construction, as well as through the use of other Western techniques such as isorhythm and especially dodecaphony ... Grigsby's formal organization is tightly controlled and organically conceived."
Brandon Derfler, Indiana Theory Review

"... a proven mastermind ... Grigsby’s music while demanding and complex is also liable to become light-hearted or whimsical...Grigsby’s shrewd and at times roguish compositional style is strikingly impressive; hence, his somewhat legendary status in the so-called progressive music industry."
Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

"It is always very good to cross borders and create misunderstanding in music."
Louis Andriessen

"Crash. Crash, crash. Three more crashes. A low, moaning flute sound. More crashes, and an electronic squeal. A splatter of electric chamber music, rife with tone clusters. Dense, chromatic figuration for piano and winds. Hints of Ligeti, "L'Homme Arme," rapid scalar motion, and -- what's that -- tonality? Yes, it is. Sort of. This is the opening of U Totem's "One Nail Draws Another," a composition by James Grigsby and one of the great compositions in the history of experimental rock. In a mere fifteen minutes, it's practically a microcosm of Western music, from High Renaissance polyphony and contemporary chamber music to Broadway and rock music. Melodic, consonant vocal sections are offset by blasts of heavy, dissonant instrumental chamber rock. The music is never the same for more than a minute, and yet it holds together perfectly."
Alex Temple, Progweed

“...like an interactive soundtrack & a musical puzzle... (Grigsby’s) the Brian Eno of the South Bay - quietly constructing astonishing word/sound collages while the rest of us chatter away.”
Bondo Wyszpolski, Easy Reader

"The music is completely undefinable, majestic, complex, emotional & experimental at the same time...a challenging album that expands the boundaries of contemporary music & avant garde, & still remains a real feast to enjoy in all its twists & turns."
Crohinga Well

"...magnificent musical moments... giddy conceptual camp... cosmopolitan rainbow of influences (Stockhausen, The Residents, Bartok, Harry Partch...??) ...should interest anyone who values civilized experimental music"
Marina La Palma, High Performance

"... while the music is powerful, even disturbing, it's not just aimless thrashing."
Keyboard

"... blends film music techniques with avant-prog complexity and some pop sensibilities ... elegantly combines classical training and free improvisation into one impressive lump of music."
François Couture, All Music Guide

"Their style is filled with quirky twists and turns, drastic changes of mood and direction, and a subtle humor that is rarely found in music of this nature."
Mike Ezzo, Jinko

"...various barnyard animals (i.e. cows, ducks, pigs) are represented. ...a kind of a macabre carnival atmosphere."
Forced Exposure

"Uncompromising in melody, harmony and rhythm...superbly played throughout."
Facelift

"...a rigorous conceptual mania about Modern Life: People can't do anything in a flowing, linear way, because something's always interrupting. The phone rings. A commercial comes on. The police have a shoot-out with the crack ring next door. Your wife hacks off your arm with the ceremonial sword from the living room wall."
Los Angeles Weekly

"...orchestral arrangements, sometimes tinged with an exotic tribal quality. ... The crystal-clear recording captures the wide range of timbres used, and those with high-end stereos will really get their money's worth."
Ear

“Music with roots in such diverse styles as Renaissance polyphony, 12-tone serialism & Indonesian gamelan... trancelike in its complexity.”
Reflex

“Mindblowing... moody, dynamic, beautifully phrased, and completely unpredictable.”
Comedy of Errors

“...like Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass as performed by Blue Cheer.. These guys put the pneu in New Music.”
Los Angeles Weekly

"MTG are kind of like a serious chamber music ensemble who have descended into a fine madness after listening to and fully digesting all sorts of ethnic third world music, old Albert Ayler records and Dr. Demento radio shows."
Sound Choice

"... characterized by unsurpassed technique and perfect sound; in addition, this music is well written and well orchestrated...this must surely be the CD of the year!"
Gateavisa

"The closest thing to Henry Cow in complexity...world class playing and singing...there is nothing else like this now."
Chris Cutler

rotarytotem.com