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    Various Artists – Cold Blue

    Various Artists - Cold Blue

    This is a 2002 CD reissue of an old vinyl comp from 1984, back in the days of the original incarnation of the Cold Blue label. Thirteen tracks, including one bonus, of brooding experimental wonder from 13 (mostly) West Coast composers. The complete rundown: Chas Smith’s “Beatrix” forms a gentle backdrop full of multi-tracked banjo and one lone, loud, distorted power chord struck on a pedal steel guitar that gradually wafts away into a misty powder of pristine ambience. Ingram Marshall’s “Gradual Siciliano (For Gus)” finds a gentle mandolin and piano gradually dissolving into a nice electronic haze. A totally different piano–along with a large drum and a bullroarer–fill a dark, primal void with a repetitive, echoing knock; a dissonant note cluster and strange, circular mechanical sound in Peter Garland’s “Three Strange Angels.”

    Daniel Lentz’ “You Can’t See the Forest…Music” offers really tweaked sounding spoken word and tapped wine glasses, featuring “the composer’s cascading echo technique with three human speakers who play wine glasses that they tune by drinking from them as the piece unfolds, reconstructing disassembled adages.” Michael Byron’s “Marimbas in the Dorian Mode” puts four marimba players in the mellow mode, as the piece meanders around in the dark and eventually fizzles away. Jim Fox’s “Appearance of Red” joins a simple, dramatic piano line with a couple of warm, floating blankets of electric guitar and cello to gorgeous effect.

    David Mahler’s “La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles” is the bonus track from 2001, featuring a “haunting, slightly nostalgic piano solo” that is very delicate and pretty. Read Miller’s “Weddings, Funerals and Children Who Cannot Sleep” features layers of spoken word whose treble is, at time, rolled off into total, muted abstraction. John Kuhlman’s “In This Light” is comprised of a deep, chanting vocal smeared all over simple, repetitive, rocking electric guitar (mostly played on one string) and trombone for a totally unknown and really nice slice of minimal rock. Rick Cox’s “Necessity” fills the biggest, most beautiful aquarium in the world with shimmering ashes of electric guitar and prepared electric guitar that sound fully roomy yet totally massive.

    Michael Jon Fink’s “Celesta Solo” rings out a nice, forlorn little ditty with the almost toy-like sonorities of the celesta. Eugene Bowen and Harold Budd’s “Wonder’s Edge” finds a very warm, inviting and intricately woven rug of guitar synthesizer and keyboard synthesizer “slipping in and out of a slightly twisted tango.” Last, and certainly not least, James Tenney’s “Spectral Canon For Conlon Nancarrow” employs the player piano to gradually transform a single repetitive note into a dense, shimmering cluster of notes and rhythms. This piece is “a wonderfully swirling and intensely building rhythmic canon that accelerates as it introduces ever higher pitches tuned to the harmonic spectrum of its lowest note, bringing the disc to a close with a bang.” Indeed. A gnarly tornado wreaking havoc on the front cover matches the album and label moniker quite well.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0008 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 13 Total Time: 57:48 Country: United States Released: 2002 More: Discogs, Forced Exposure, Last FM, Official

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy

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