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    Larry Polansky – Four Voice Canons

    October 18th, 2009

    Larry Polansky - Four Voice Canons

    Larry Polansky is a composer, performer, theorist and professor who has been working since the ’70s at places like Mills College and Dartmouth. He’s also a founder of Frog Peak Music (A Composer’s Collective). “All the pieces on this disc are mensuration canons of four or more voices. In these canons, each successively entering voice moves proportionally faster than the previous one, causing each canon’s density and rhythmic complexity to increase from beginning to end.” The works, which span nearly a quarter of a century, from 1978 to 2002, are sounded by a wide variety of instruments.

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    John Luther Adams – The Light That Fills the World

    October 17th, 2009

    John Luther Adams - The Light That Fills the World

    Morton Feldman-influenced fence post-minimal composer and Cal Arts graduate John Luther Adams has been at it since the mid 1970s, writing nearly two dozen pieces prior to the three found on his Cold Blue CD from 2002, The Light That Fills the World. “The Farthest Place” opens the disk with a pleasantly percolating 11-minute long wisp of sound comprised of piano, electric piano, vibes, marimba, violin and doublebass over a comfy bed of bass clarinet. The title track ebbs for a couple of minutes longer and comes complete with a generous portion of low-end electronic hums. The third and final track, “The Immeasurable Space of Tones,” stretches out to nearly a half hour, and really expands upon and drives home the sonic properties contained in the first two. The influence of the landscape of Adams’ Alaska home–from the subterranean rumbling of its volcanic magma to the highest crags of its soaring peaks—transfers into a most lovely, blasting mist of flowing, human sound.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0010 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 3 Total Time: 50:57 Country: United States Released: 2002 More: Discogs, Forced Exposure, Last FM, Official, Wikipedia

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy


    John Luther Adams + Rick Cox + Michael Jon Fink + Jim Fox – Adams / Cox / Fink / Fox

    October 6th, 2009

    Adams / Cox / Fink / Fox

    Four slices of chamber music from composers John Luther Adams, Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink and Jim Fox gets compiled on this CD, punctuated by two short, quiet clarinet interludes by Marty Walker. Adams’ “Dark Wind” lives up to its title with gorgeous acoustic instrument atmospherics that flow and darkly brood with the best of ‘em–very minimal, pleasurable and impressive. In Fink’s “Thread of Summer,” a forlorn melody is bandied about between Marty and the rest of the ensemble. Cox’s “When April May” “floats a lyric line over a repeating harmonics structure,” while Fox’s “Between the Wheels” boasts a “series of quiet bass clarinet statements, accompanied by violin harmonics, heard against a cycling tapestry of string tremolos.” All in all, this CD gives the impression of being one long, flowing work of a single composer, rather than four, and stands as a fine presentation of austere understatement. Featuring Amy Knoles on vibraphone and marimba, Bryan Pezzone on piano, Maria Newman and Peter Kent on violins, Valerie Dimond on viola, Greg Gottlieb on cello and Dan Smith on cello.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0009 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 6 Total Time: 41:00 Country: United States Released: 2002 More: Discogs, Forced Exposure, Last FM, Official

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy


    Various Artists – Cold Blue

    October 4th, 2009

    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.”

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    Chas Smith – Aluminum Overcast

    October 3rd, 2009

    Chas Smith - Aluminum Overcast

    A hazy, floating atmosphere permeates this music wrought by Los Angeles-based, Harry Partch-inspired composer Chas Smith and his arsenal of self-built metal instruments*, including the Adkins, Bass Tweed, Copper Box, Guitarzilla, Junior Blue, DADO, Majestic and Mantis; plus a little flute, cello, choir and wind ensemble thrown in here and there.

    Yay, verily! Get this into thy head: vigorously bowed single notes with ultra-long sustain, heavily reverberated knocks, and deep, echoing, metallic ambience. All aboard! All of the above abounds. Indeed, Aluminum Overcast is the perfect title for this ever-glimmerin’ Mammoth Cave o’ vastness. Fans of Harry Bertoia and the Baschet Brothers would do well to investigate this little platter of perpetual pleasure. Way recommended.

    *“Resonators that sprout rods, which are bowed and struck; large, clangorous sculptures of titanium; metal strings strung across multiple resonators; and vibraphone-like arrays of metal plates.” Also featuring Oja Fin on voice, Anon on flute and cello, the Reseda Women’s Choir on voices and the Reseda Wind Ensemble on flutes.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0007 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 6 Total Time: 49:46 Country: United States Released: 2001 More: Artist Direct, Forced Exposure, Last FM

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy


    Rick Cox – Maria Falling Away

    September 21st, 2009

    Rick Cox - Maria Falling Away

    Rick Cox is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who has been on the new music scene since the late 1970s. His Maria Falling Away CD from 2001 is completely crammed full of slowly shifting, immensely wide puffs of ethereal beauty that effortlessly waft around your mind ’n’ spirit like innumerable fragile, translucent dream kites in a continuously changing formation of their exclusive understanding. It’s hard to believe this really is a guitar-led music, what with such soft-edged pillowry everywhere and nary a string-pluck in auditory view. But then you read the press release, which describes Rick’s “idiosyncratic playing techniques” on prepared guitar with sponges, brushes and a glass slide. Ah ha! Now I get it. I wonder if he used an Ebow, as well? Any way you slice it, the results are sumptuous. Track five even concedes to a gentle, rocking rhythm with some fairly deep bass.

    Featuring Rick Cox himself–who, not surprisingly, has played on film scores–on electric guitar, prepared electric guitar, baritone electric guitar, alto sax, contra-alto clarinet and sampler, Jon Hassel on trumpet, Thomas Newman–another film score guy–on piano, Jeff Elmassian on clarinet and Chas Smith on pedal steel guitar. This is a really purty disc that, come bedtime in a small, snowed-in cabin in the tundra, you might want to call your own.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0006 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 6 Total Time: 55:04 Country: United States Released: 2001 More: Discogs, Forced Exposure, Last FM

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy


    Marty Walker – Dancing On Water

    September 20th, 2009

    Marty Walker - Dancing On Water

    Mostly quiet, delicate, floaty and melancholy, this 2001 collection of clarinet-led acoustic music does not hesitate to swerve into a lengthy and quirky hair shirt workout once or twice. Featuring works from six different composers, including Daniel Lentz, Peter Garland, Jim Fox, Michael Jon Fink, Rick Cox and Michael Byron, and headed by Marty Walker on clarinets, this music aims to please–and please it does.

    Breathy spoken female vocals, pleasantly tinkling piano, melodic yet moody clarinets of every kind, digital delay, soothing harp, tooting trumpet and moody vibes–it’s all here, a ready and willing snack for your hungry, night-loving eardrums. Featuring Susan Allen on harp, Rick Cox, David Johnson on vibraphone, Amy Knoles on voice, Bryan Pezzone on piano, Waddada Leo Smith on trumpet and last but not least, the highly-esteemed William Winant on percussion.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0005 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 10 Total Time: 50:40 Country: United States Released: 2001 More: Discogs, Ear Unit, Forced Exposure, Last FM

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy


    Michael Jon Fink – I Hear it in the Rain

    September 18th, 2009

    Michael Jon Fink - I Hear it in the Rain

    Michael Jon Fink is a composer of orchestral, chamber, keyboard, instrumental, electronic and vocal / dramatic music who has been working since the early 1970s. He has also been teaching composition, orchestration and analysis at Cal Arts since the late ’80s. His first full-length CD for Cold Blue, I Hear it in the Rain, kicks off with “Five Pieces For Piano,” which, as its name might hint, is chock-full of super sparse, forlorn solo piano and celesta music of the highest order. “For Celesta” stands out from the gloom with its simple, sprightly melody that recalls a child’s musical box.

    The centerpiece of the disk, “Living to be Hunted by the Moon,” is a 20-minute-long fog bank full of of dim, sublime drones emitted from a clarinet, bass clarinet and samples. Boasting an electric guitar, glass guitar, sponge guitar, electric bass, electronic keyboard and percussion, the title track closes out the disk with a slowly pulsing, gentle waft of incredibly nice ambient chamber “rock” that is about a million different kinds of pleasant. No matter how you slice it, all of the music on this CD forms the perfect backdrop for you to lounge around on a rained-in Sunday afternoon.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0004 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 10 Total Time: 50:12 Country: United States Released: 2001 More: Discogs, Cal Arts, Last FM, Official

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy


    Chas Smith – Nikko Wolverine

    September 17th, 2009

    Chas Smith - Nikko Wolverine

    Chas Smith is a performer and composer who plays pedal steel guitar and designs and builds his own sculptural metal musical instruments that combine the influence of two prominent 20th century Harrys—Partch and Bertoia. Most of his music effortlessly floats within the ambient category, as his first CD on Cold Blue from the year 2000, Nikko Wolverine, proves. Layers of bright, shimmering tones supported by low-pitched clouds wrought by the Adkins, Bass Tweed, Copper Box, DADO, Lockheed, Mantis, Pez Eater, SS Disc, Tio and thundersheets drift through your head with the greatest of ease. Even the Reseda Women’s Choir and a pedal steel guitar blend in with the haze in a most indistinct manner. Although the last track is played in a more traditional country slide guitar vein, the overall feeling this CD exudes is as relaxing as a gigantic marshmallow puff gently hovering in a lavender evening sky.

    Label: Cold Blue Catalog Number: CB0003 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 6 Total Time: 53:26 Country: United States Released: 2000 More: Artist Direct, Forced Exposure, Last FM

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy


    Michael Byron – Music of Nights Without Moon or Pearl

    September 15th, 2009

    Michael Byron - Music of Nights Without Moon Or Pearl

    Among many other things, Michael Byron is a modern classical composer who studied with James Tenney and Richard Teitelbaum, a music professor who taught at York University, and an editor of experimental music journals and books. His first full-length CD, Music of Nights Without Moon Or Pearl, from 2000, premieres three long pieces from the 1990s. The title track opens the disc with a beyond pleasant 18-minute piece of unintended, unofficial and beautiful minimalism—the aural equivalent of a gentle rain shower. A string quartet, playing the part of the raindrops themselves, lets loose an ever-cascading downpour of pizzicati (plucked strings) over an insistent, repetitive piano roll; electronic keyboard washes and carefree, meandering contrabass lines.

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