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    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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    Jim Fox – Last Things

    September 13th, 2009

    Jim Fox - Last Things

    Jim Fox is a composer and the founder / art director of Cold Blue. This California-based avant-garde classical label, which started out with numerous vinyl releases in the early 1980s, went on hiatus after several years, re-emerged in 2000 with CDs, and has been going strong ever since. The label’s debut CD, Last Things, offers one hour of expanding sonic mist via two long electro-acoustic tracks. “The Copy Of The Drawing” features soft, female vocals whispering tidbits of beautiful mystery while multiple layers of abstract electronic leg warmers perpetually and completely unfurl in the air and hover around your body, then turn all local matter into pure energy, and set your battered spirit gently afloat into a universe-sized vat of imaginary dark chocolate.

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    Robert Millis + Jefferey Taylor – Victrola Favorites

    September 8th, 2009

    Robert Millis + Jefferey Taylor - Victrola Favorites

    Back in the late 1990s, Robert Millis and Jefferey Taylor, of the experimental music outfit Climax Golden Twins, put out a series of limited-edition cassettes called Victrola Favorites, which contained music from around the globe originally released on old 78 rpm records in the early 20th century. A decade later, the cream of this crop was released to a much wider audience as a gorgeous art book and 2-CD set. Faithfully reproduced with the sonic murk of crackles and hiss left intact, the raw-as-hell recordings unfurl over the course of two hours in a most pleasing and perfect manner.

    Ranging from the 1920s to the ’50s, the songs veer all over the musical map. Disc one kicks off with some abrupt call and response singing from the Congo, followed by opera from China, fado from Portugal and some sublime drone-based raga from India. The United States weighs in with shining examples of orchestral jazz blues, feral guitar / vocal blues, hillbilly country ballads, unbelievable solo slide guitar shredding, jug band jazz, insane country yodeling and big band swing jazz. Finishing up the disc is a dramatic Greek folk song, exotic Egyptian belly dance music, entrancing solo oud from Turkey and a side of Korean bamboo flute.

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