Kyle Gann - "Long Night"

Rick Fox - "Fade"

Jim Fox - "Descansos, past"

Cold Blue Music

I hope nobody will get upset when I call this batch of releases composed atmospheric music, but that's the closest my lousy vocabulary can come in describing what these composers have put down to tape.

Composer Kyle Gann has been a mainstay on the US scene for more than two decades. He admits that "Long Night" is a piece that comes from his early, Brian Eno influenced period. Clocking in at a mere 25 minutes [all of these releases are EPs in fact]; the piece is specifically written for three pianos that are non-synchronized and played at varied tempos. Pianist Sarah Cahill creates a mood that is at once calming and unnerving at once. There are a lot of minute little nuances flying in this music. The piano work is superbly underplayed. Even when the ambience seems to be delicate on the first listen, that's only an illusion. There is depth and gorgeous hidden treasures, only if you're willing to look for them. The overlapping of the pianos is not chaotic as the concept may apply. In fact, each piano is heard and heard in crystalline fashion. The repetitiveness of the piece itself is hauntingly mesmerizing and draws you in immediately. "Long Night" is a wonderful piece that neutralizes your nerves on a stressful day.

Rick Cox [who has done much work on various soundtracks] is probably known as an early pioneer of the prepared electric guitar. What he does on "Fade" with a trio is a continuation of his guitar odyssey. Rick is joined by pianist / composer Thomas Newman, along with bassist and engineer Peter Freeman. What do they do together as a trio, you ask? Rick's guitar sound is one of gentleness and poise. His overall sound is one that can easily be compared to little sparkling notes being left behind for people to observe, as they drop on the sidewalk after a heavy rainstorm. Thomas Newman's piano seems to be buried in the mix, but when it does stick out, he delivers power with a single chord, a single touch. I have a feeling that Peter Freeman's contribution to this release is insurmountable. The aura he gives this record is comparable to covering yourself with a blanket when you take a nap on the couch. It's that comfort and a level of warmth. This EP is like a shimmering fireplace on a long, cold winter night. The warmth of "Fade" is sure to stay with you long after the CD has finished.

Jim Fox's music has been called many things ranging from "austere" to "sensuous". I'll add my own adjectives about the composer's work on his new release "Descansos, past" in a little while. For the time being, let's deal with some fact. The music was written in April of 2004 and is dedicated to the memory of composer / performer John Kuhlman, who passed away a few years ago. The music was penned for a double bass [played by Barry Newton]; along with nine ever-arco tuned cellos [though on the recording only four cellists perform these parts, with the remaining parts being overdubbed]. The music is full of shattering stillness and stark beauty. What is evident is the sparkling warmth it evokes. The layers are presented gradually and eventually as the 15 minute piece comes to a close you're left with something that is left in your head. Its' stillness is consuming and grand.

Tom Sekowski

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+ Paul Plimley / Barry Guy - Sensology; Mats Gustafsson / Barry Guy - Frogging
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>> Kyle Gann - Long Night; Rick Fox - Fade; Jim Fox - Descansos, past
+ Adult. - D.U.M.E.
+ Various Artists - The Meta Collection; Asana 3 - Peaceful Heart
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