COLD BLUE TWO
COLD BLUE CB0036 (58: 10)
Son of Soe-Pa.
Sometimes the Sword of Seven.
J. L. ADAMS
Sky with Four Suns.
Come out, sit awhile; break the bottle, and you is lost.
It Never Rains.
Prelude to Alone.
Mallets in the Air.
Nights in the Gardens of Maine.
Hymn of Change.
Colorless sky become fog
It’s been about a decade since the CD release of
(Cold Blue Music CB008), a compilation of 13 short works by a panoply of the label’s favorite composers; many of those names reappear here. As before, these works are new to CD, and some of them actually were composed for this release.
(which originally appeared on LP) was called “a classic anthology of American new music” by Charles Amirkhanian, and
Cold Blue Two
is a chip off the old block. In the words of the press release (presumably by composer and label founder, Jim Fox), “this collection contains something to surprise (and delight) just about everyone.” Most Cold Blue releases are devoted to a single composer. This one is devoted to 14. As a result, the release is less single-minded than most on this label, and so listeners who are curious about what Cold Blue Music is all about might treat this as a sampler, even though it technically isn’t. One could argue, I suppose, that single-mindedness is a Cold Blue virtue. Nevertheless, all of these works are just short/long enough to make their point, and they rub shoulders amicably throughout. (No fighting please—Cold Blue Music is a West Coast label, although not all of the composers are associated with the West Coast.)
The booklet lists the works, the performers, and the timings, all against the backdrop of interesting and evocative photographs from the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the Santa Paula Snapshot Museum, and Fox himself. If you want to read notes about the music and the composers, though, those can be found in the press-kit (which is not included in the actual release, of course). Words about music are ultimately unsatisfying. Still, listeners might appreciate a little more context (and help) than they receive here.
Perhaps a description of the first three tracks will let the listener know what he or she is in for.
, by Daniel Lentz, features cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, albeit squared, cubed, and quadrupled through the use of multitracking and overdubbing. Thus, one cellist sounds like a cello super-ensemble. The music is grave and beautiful, and deep enough to wander through, at least for four minutes and 23 seconds. Ingram Marshall’s
Son of Soe-Pa
begins with the sound of Marshall’s son Clement playing a hypnotic guitar phrase from his father’s earlier work
. Marshall then subjects it to electronic processing, including the introduction of delay and pitch manipulations. He then folds in multiple layers of Clement’s voice (when Clement was eight) singing a hymn tune. (The effect will remind some listeners of Marshall’s
, from 1989.) By the time
Son of Soe-Pa
is nearing its end, Marshall has restored Clement’s original sample, but as the piece fades out, the process of manipulation seems, hauntingly, to be starting again. Phillip Schroeder plays the celesta (and applies digital delay to it) in his
, taking the instrument some distance from the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The music twinkles and flitters. Schroeder writes that “Fibonacci numbers were used to organize many musical elements—tempi, harmonic rhythm, voicing, the length of delay reflections, structure, and form.” I suspect you won’t hear that any more than I did, but never mind:
is pretty and smiles mysteriously, and for four minutes and 12 seconds, who needs more?
The sticker on the shrink wrap included a silly quote from Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, who opines that “this record pretty much kicks ass.”
Cold Blue Two
, I would counter, is too gentle and well mannered to kick anything, let alone ass. It’s more like a quiet guy at a party who gets branded as a nerd or an eccentric, but who ends up amazing all the guests with his insights and innate sensitivity. Make his acquaintance before others do.