Benn Jordan-Pale Blue Dot

Benn Jordan Pale Blue Dot:

Dedicated to astronomer Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot is a trance inducing  album well suited to thinking about the universe, and your place in it. Significantly more ambient than most of Jordan’s output, his arrangements contain less of the hyper-edited drum parts, and flashy soloing often found in material released under Jordan’s various pseudonyms.  Jordan’s knack for writing beautiful melodies and crafting elegant synthesizer sounds take the forefront on this release. Overall the mood is contemplative, encouraging a state of mind in which you deal with the big questions, rather than many ambient releases which tend to induce a state of relaxation. The music also evokes the same state of wonder as looking up at the stars as a kid or watching one of those Discovery Channel specials about super novas.  As with most of his releases this album explores a lot of interesting territory and uses electronic music to evoke real human emotion in a way that few others can.

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Brethren of the Free Spirit-The Wolf Also Shall Dwell with the Lamb

Brethren of the Free Spirit The Wolf Also Shall Dwell with the Lamb:

A 12 string acoustic player and a medieval lute player come together and create a beautiful harmonic climate. Theres a lot of influences at play here one can hear the echoes of everyone from John Fahey to J.S. Bach.  Dissonance is incorporated beautifully and never in a way which is unpleasant. The pieces tend to be fairly repetitive, but in a way thats mesmerizing. Subtle changes and fills compliment the tracks well, making them more active while not taking away from their hypnotic nature. A really interesting release for fans of acoustic instrumentals.

Rating: 14/15 lutes making a come back

Steve Reich-Daniel Variations

Steve Reich Daniel Variations:

A beautiful piece that transcends the term minimalism. Though the drones and repetition, of minimalism are present Reich toys with them adding subtle changes that eventually evolve into completely different patterns. Reich utilizes a fascinating harmonic language particularly during the first track. He uses dissonant chords to at times create tension, and at others to present beauty. One of Reich’s true strengths is his ability to weave seamless transitions that don’t feel forced or unnatural, and there are plenty of occurrences like that to be found on this album.  I can’t say enough about how rewarding of a listen this album truly is.

Rating: 15/15 tragic events spawning beautiful music

Kronos Quartet-Plays Sigur Ros

Kronos Quartet Plays Sigur Ros:

Its amazing how well stripping down these songs to four acoustic string instruments, and removing the vocals actually works. The music swells and retracts then changes course keeping one completely enamored and interested at what will happen next. One of the true highlights of this album comes when one or more instruments play the vocal melody. The phrasing is so beautiful and exact that I may even prefer it to the original vocal track. A great release, with a lot of incredibly emotive playing.

Rating 15/15 unpronounceable song titles

Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull

Earth The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull:

Earth continue their transition from sounding like a broken refrigerator fed through a distortion pedal to a slow tempo post-gospel instrumental rock group. This is a really beautiful album to listen to while taking a walk, or lying at home with your head between the speakers. All the tracks range from great to solid, but the three featuring Bill Frisell prove the most effective. Carlson is a great guitarist, but his playing style works best when juxtaposed with another melodic element. At any rate, this is one of the better instrumental rock albums I’ve heard in quite some time.

Rating: 14/15 Awesome Biblical allusions