This CD arrived out of the blue late last Autumn. I rather regret that my
personal backlog has delayed a descriptive review until now.
This disc, which Mark Lockett is selling direct, is a 'cold as ice' example
of new age meets minimalism. The foldout leaflet gives little information
as if to say 'just listen to the music'. This is fair enough although a new
name might well have advanced his interests further by providing some
biographical background amongst all the design work and photos. Wriggly Pig
do not stint on some artist information and from this we learn that
the composer plays piano, keyboards, accordion and percussion. He is joined
by various other instrumentalists including the bass, tabla, voice and a
seven-strong gamelan ensemble. The whole was recorded in 1998 in Birmingham
Let's take the tracks one by one.
Kiva - 1: Gamelan sounds meet a Latin beat with ear-tickling wide stereo
separation and a dash of Coltrane. The trochaic pattern reminded me of
Nightride and Sunrise by Sibelius.
Alcatraz. 2: The sounds of the sea mix with the bubbles and squeaks which
characterise the Barrons' score for the famous Walter Pidgeon 1950s sci-fi
film Forbidden Planet. The music seems, probably unconsciously, to
be illustrating the phantasmagorical world of C.S. Lewis's Out of the
Silent Planet. Icy cathedrals slip in and out of focus in an atmosphere
that contrives to be simultaneously warm and cold.
Mono Lake 1. 3. Wide-spanned piano chords suggest height and depth and the
music has an Irish curve and lilt with splashes of Debussy and Satie.
Floating World. 4. The title evokes Hovhaness. The track is the longest at
8.10. This is the deftest gamelan playing; pleasing and mesmeric.
Suburbia Nocturne. 5. The rich broth includes a siren, Latin American beat,
accordion and a decidedly Gallic (Claude Lelouch) atmosphere.
Sekar Gadung. 6. More gamelan.
Earthbow. 7. This track is dominated by jazzy material with maracas, piano,
percussion and struck piano strings in a dynamic interlude which reminded
me of Conlon Nancarrow's possessed 'prepared piano' studies.
Rejang Eyong. 8. The gamelan returns in all its tumultuous patterned life
and contrasts with what sounds like a wobble-board.
Mono Lake II 9. This is a nice track drawing somewhat on Gershwin and the
real or imagined Manhattan cocktail bar milieu.
The Ladder. 10. This is like an off-station radio signal with a voice cutting
quietly and enigmatically through the miasma.
11. Back to Cocktail-hour Manhattan but with a side salad of Satie and Lelouch.
The Janitor's Tango. 12. Tango? Yes and with on-style accordion and ending
in the cocooned neon-lit warmth of the big city. Perhaps a touch here of
Herrmann's music for Taxidriver.
To summarise. This is pleasant, ear and mind-healing music. It does not
challenge. No track is so long that its material outstays its welcome. As
an essay in undemanding serenity it achieves its apparent aim without a shake
See also previous review by David Wright