I was nearly 30 before I heard the phrase, "There's no accounting for taste". Truer words were never spoken. It's also the case that over the course of my life, I've been attracted to things well out of the mainstream. Just because this music works for me, there's no reason it should for you. But if you feel the need for something fresh in your musical diet, give it a shot.
In a number of posts I've talked how excited I am about Jeff Smiley's The Balanced Embouchure approach to helping folks come at the issue of embouchure in a wonderfully accessible way. In some deep sense, I think Kyle Gann is doing something similar in helping us to rethink the possibilities of tonal music in a new and very natural way. Both Smiley and Gann seem to be saying, "Forget the experts; come at music and music making as you are." Just as Smiley talks about how one's best embouchure can't be arrived at by following rules handed down by the masters, Gann's music creates wondrous new forms by leaving behind the monotony of regular bar-lines and harmonies meant for the parlor.
Relâche is an odd assortment of instruments, sort of a chamber concert band without brass but with a occasional viola. Gann seems to exult in oddness of timbres, even to flaunting his ability to turn it to his uses.
All of the novel sound sculptures in The Planets mean that you can't simply assign them to familiar pattern correspondences. Several times while listening I've had the phrase " A poem should not mean but be", float up. There are a lot of times in The Planets where the sound shapes don't easily map to known quantities. But nothing is so far removed from "normal" that it's incomprehensible.
One caveat I should throw in is that I've been following Kyle Gann's blog, PostClassic for years. When you read someone's writing that closely, an image of them forms in your mind, especially if you were an English major in a previous lifetime. While there are a number of passages in The Planets where I'm not sure of their "meaning", I have the feeling of Kyle coming to life in sound.