Lavender Fog’s new Album “Landscape Of A Dream”   Leave a comment

Landscape of a Dream 

A review of the new album by Lavender Fog.

November 29, 2012

Jazz is almost always a transformative experience for both the performer and the observer. It’s a subjective art form, inherently making an emotional outreach to each listener. Landscape of a Dream fits easily into accepted descriptions of jazz types including avant garde and free-form, while adding in electronica for good measure. However, those new to the genres should discard the notion that they’re going to find one or two standout tracks, new favorite songs, or in the pop vernacular, singles. Better to leave your expectations at the door and spend your time listening since part of the challenge of Lavender Fog’s Landscape of a Dream is that its pure free-form creativity means cursory listening will be insufficient.

As with most recordings, Landscape of a Dream can be heard in the foreground as a dynamic listening experience, or in the background as a passive exploration. Heard in the background one is likely to take note of the more emphatic musical accents offered by co-authors and co-artists Harrison Goldberg and Simon Burnett; the foreground, however, is where the listener is compelled to pay attention as visceral feelings, cerebral discernment, and emotional responses emerge.

The sequencing of the 14 tracks seems to be less as a conceptual mandate, i.e., listen to track 1 before you listen to track 2, and more as a notional choice by Goldberg and Burnett. The first track, “Pythagorus Plays His Mighty Wurlitzer ver. 2”, has enough drama in the opening bars to make you want to hear more. Simon Burnett’s computer creates a choir worthy of the mystery one expects in the opening scene of a feature film; Harrison Goldberg’s sax creates a siren call to the listener; and then there’s an almost imperceptible moment when your consciousness realizes that Burnett’s computer-generated “Wurlitzer” is a co-equal instrument in the ensemble.

Other tracks include “Cathedral Cave ver. 2” which is more atmospheric than terrestrial. Like sci-fi movies of old, “Galaxie Radio” moves beyond the terrestrial and atmospheric, and lifts us well into the final frontier, although some of the passages seem a little trite when compared with other more well-crafted parts of Landscape.  “Sacred Music” has multiple elements performed with obvious dissonance; yet the track simultaneously has continuity with what came before and then adds something new, in this case Ursula Hamilton’s vocal accents. “Urbanscape” evokes a lower Manhattan side street where music escapes from open windows and echoes off brick walls, all in sync with urban surroundings created in the mind’s eye. The album’s second last track (and 13th overall), “The Legend of Lavender Fog”, sets the mood for departure, an exit ramp from the musical journey as it rolls into the final track, “Landscape of a Dream ver. 2”. Unfortunately this 14th and last track is a fragment, leaving the listener wishing Burnett and Goldberg had taken one more exploration and expanded this last offering.

There are 7 other tracks to explore on Landscape of a Dream, and each in its own way fulfills what Goldberg and Burnett sought to do, i.e., rationalize a new musical experience that explores and creates during their grand recorded experiment, and for that they should be applauded. There are precious few moments in these two discs where I found myself thinking I can’t wait to play that track for (fill in the blank). But I never lost sight of the complete album; as a listening experience at times seemingly unfinished, yet always evolving and stimulating as more elements rise to the surface with each listening. It’s an album where the strength of the audio helps create visual perceptions for each listener. And that’s not a bad rationale for a recording.

David Steffen

© David Steffen 2012


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