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Artist: Adams/Cox/Fink/Fox

Album: Adams/Cox/Fink/Fox

Label: Cold Blue

Review date: Apr. 24, 2002

On this latest release from the recently revived California new music label Cold Blue, reed player Marty Walker leads us deep into a seamless collection of quiet, ruminative chamber pieces by West Coast composers.

As different as they are, the works presented here are of a piece. Alaska composer John Luther Adams' “Dark Wind", for bass clarinet, piano, marimba, and vibraphone, evokes Chthonic energies and the shifting skies of a northern landscape with rumbling, rolling blocks of sound-textures that shimmer like a Terry Riley drone while moving with a Feldman-esque slow majesty.

Rick Cox, whose evocative treated guitar soundscapes have turned up in some well-known films, gives us the lyrical and pensive “When April May,"a weaving of song-like clarinet melody through rich and nuanced string quartet sonorities.

Works for clarinet and string quartet by Jim Fox and Michael Jon Fink further explore the subtle margins between string and reed resonances, using various formal schemes to highlight the textural and melodic interplay.

The entire disc is perfectly sequenced; the individual works flow together like a journey, with Walker’s warm and very human tone taking the part of guide and companion. In the best Cold Blue tradition there is plenty of room for the listener here; just enough space to walk a satisfying path between meditative silence and fully sense-engaging sound.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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