Today, I checked out five CDs from the library of the university near work. The CDs are in open stacks and apparently in order of acquisition. So, I started from the newest and picked ones that might be interesting although in hindsight I picked CDs with similar cover color schemes. I ended up with Conlon Nancarrow/George Antheil on ECM, Frederic Rzewski on Canteloupe, Bang on a Can on Canteloupe, John Luther Adams on New World, and Alvin Lucier on New World. My plan is to focus for the next week on these CDs and the twenty-six works they contain.
In doing some quick Amazon searches, I've learned that New World Records are available via Amazon; I was not sure they would be. In Amazon sales rank, Bang on a Can Classics was tops at #92,684 and Frederic Rzewski's Which Side Are You On was last at #223,092. Jimmy Buffett's License to Chill is apparently #1. The library didn't have that one.
While I haven't actually started listening yet, I did read some of the liner notes. Written by Robert Ashley, the Lucier notes (PDF) were the most intriguing and start out with a bit of a claim:
This is the fulfullment of a dream for a new kind of music. There is nothing like Vespers in the literature of music. It is a completely new way of defining what music is, and the definition is given to us in a purely realized form.
Disclaimer: I reserve the right to not have time to even listen to all twenty-six works.