ECHO LOCATION-The Latest CD of Exclusive Echoes Live Performances
That ping you hear is the sound of Echo Location, our 17th volume of Echoes Living Room Concerts. Like the previous albums, it’s a remarkable selection from across the Echoes spectrum of live performances, recorded in locales that range from the Echoes Black Box to a 19th century gothic revival synagogue.
And what is the range of music? One edge is the electronic side of Echoes. Vic Hennegan makes his second Echoes CD appearance with a retro-space opus called “Patagonian Rain” that calls up the spirit of Tangerine Dream but houses it in his own modern electronica sensibility. Erik Wollo makes his third Living Room Concert CD
appearance with the longest track on the album: “The Crossing.” It’s an epic piece with a slow build into Erik’s soaring guitar wailing melodies. Living Room Concert veterans seem to abound on Echo Location: Robert Rich makes his fifth appearance on an Echoes CD. I guess we must like his music. You can hear why on his track, “Moth Wings,” a piece that’s a bit more purely electronic than Robert’s techno-tribal work. All of the electronic sets were recorded live in the Echoes living room, better known these days as the Black Box.
Emerging out of the electronic side of things are several works of ambient chamber music, a trend Echoes has followed from the beginning. Leading off the CD is Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi. He’s been on our CDs twice before. This performance was recorded in the late fall of 2010 at the Angel Orensantz Foundation Hall, a 19th century gothic revival cathedral in the heart of Manhattan. After falling into disrepair, the synagogue has been renovated, leaving much of the decayed portions intact, but mixed with modern touches and electric blue lighting that provided the perfect setting for Ludovico’s ecstatic performances of one of his best known works, “Divenire.”
Ryuichi Sakamoto is probably the biggest “name” on the album. We got the iconic eclectic Japanese musician to play a lovely and romantic set of music at the Yamaha Piano Salon in Manhattan. Sakamoto can be cerebral and ironic, but he dug into several mostly nostalgic themes with an interior passion, including this rendition of “The Sheltering Sky,” his theme for the movie of the same name.
Less well-known but no less imposing was Balmorhea, the chamber rock group from Austin, Texas. The rock part of their sound is pretty absent these days, and in a 19th century farmhouse in Chester County, PA, they played their quietly epic music accompanied by a string trio. “Truth” is a track that evokes Arvo Pärt’s most serenely spiritual sound, but with a sweeping crescendo that emerges right out of the American heartland.
Iceland’s Ólafur Arnalds brought his string quartet, electronics and piano into the studios of Echoes affiliate WITF in Harrisburg for a gorgeous session that truly lived up to the Ambient Chamber Music tag. We picked a track originally from his concept album, …And they have Escaped the Weight of Darkness.
Agnes Obel could also fit into the ambient chamber music mold. Her album, Philharmonics was an Echoes CD of the Month in January of 2011. She composes introspective songs with melodic hooks that don’t let go. One of them is “Riverside,” which she played live in a private session at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.
Agnes joins a growing legion of singers on Echoes. Also among them is Lia Ices, whose album, Grown Unknown was a personal expedition into love and loss. “Little Marriage” is a haunting song featuring mellotron strings and Lia’s vulnerable voice. And it’s the only song on Echoes that includes fingersnaps.
With all of the acoustic guitarists that appear on Echoes, we could do an entire CD just compiling them. But we have to observe some limitations, and the two players who crossed the threshold for Echo Location were Andy McKee and Gareth Pearson. Andy is a YouTubephenomenon with over 42 million views of his song, “Drifting.” He’s got incredible technique that merges finger style
guitar with the two-handed tapping approach of Michael Hedges and his own, beautifully wistful melodies. He’s represented by his song, “My Life as a C.P.A.” Gareth Pearson is an incredible finger-style player from Wales. He performs inventive covers of Michael Jackson songs, but I love his original tunes, including the playful ”Chinese Whispers.”
When I hear Echo Location, it’s not just a collection of tunes from the radio show, it’s a soundscape that defines a musical aesthetic probing, immersive music that takes you places you’ve never gone before. And you’ll want to go back.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
Many of the original albums for these songs were Echoes CD’s of the Month. Members of the CD of the Month Club already have them in their collections. You can join them in getting great Echoes music each month by going here: Echoes CD of the Month Club. Join NOW and you’ll also get a copy of Echo Location and a bonus CD.
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