Chöying Drolma & Steve Tibbetts — Chö
(Hannibal HNCD-1404, 1997, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-01-01
Fans of Steve Tibbetts, especially those who prefer the world-beat master shredder of Exploded View (1986) or The Fall of Us All (1993), might be a bit put off by this set, a collaboration with Tibetan Buddhist nun Chöying Drolma. The overall sound is more like his ambient release Northern Song (1982), with its languorous flow and expansive sonic landscapes. It's no accident that Drolma is listed first, for it is her voice that dominates the sound, not Tibbetts with his guitars and kalimbas. Electric guitar is only present to provide background textures, not in-your-face soloing. It's not until the third track that we even really hear his acoustic, a simple pattern with his distinctive vibrato tone. If you listen carefully, there's an incredible amount of detail to the production, with dripping water and other natural sounds mixed into the waves of volume-pedal guitar and resonant percussion of long-time Tibbetts cohort Marc Anderson. I was a little uninspired by the quietness of Chö at first, but I find the more I listen to it, the more I hear. There is incredible depth here, but it's so subtle and unobtrusive it's easily missed. This is music for quiet nights and open minds, a soundtrack for an exotic spiritual dream. The singing is probably a little too prominent to call the album truly ambient, and the percussion never gets into a groove like you hear in so much world-beat new-age crossover music these days. But if you're in the mood for something really different, this could fit the bill nicely.
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more