Jeff Greinke — Before Sunrise
(Spotted Peccary SPM-3701, 2018, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-04-27
He’s been actively recording music since the early 80s, with well over two dozen releases to his credit, yet probably not as prolific as some others in the floating ambient subgenre, but his creations are clearly different, embracing acoustic instrumentation as a fundamental part of his electronic based sound, thereby often making his music a hybrid of chamber styles and ambient electronics. I’ve not heard every release, in fact probably only around ten of them throughout the years, but they all seem to follow along in that general direction. Before Sunrise makes good on all of his previous endeavors, seeming to be a very natural progression along a somewhat expected trajectory. Each of the eight tracks of varying length stay around long enough to make an impressionistic statement without wearing down the listener with endless or unnecessary repetition or extension. The nine-minute opener, “High Flyers of the Night Sky,” is probably one of the most purely floating and subtle electronic amont them all, but even there, among the gentle keyboard sounds and textures, we hear strong melodies emerging from the drones in the darkness, flanked by baritone sax from guest player James DeJoie, french horn from Greg Campbell, trumpet from Lesli Dalaba, and soothing violin from Austin Larkin, such that by the end of the piece we are treated to a truly colorful and mystical kaleidoscope of light and shadows. “Slow Train on an Open Plain” is a perfect title for the follow-up track that emerges out of the shadow of the first, here more string-driven with violin, viola and cello, with french horn driving the main melody punctuated by beautiful piano ornamentation. “Under Falling Stars” is a piece that proceeds with a stong melodic looping cycle, it’s all Greinke here with no guest players, using a wide variety of keyboard sounds together with samples of acoustic instruments. The perfectly titled “Mountains and Clouds” evokes a moving stillness bathed in fog, a sound that Greinke has been perfecting over several decades, the changes within this beautiful six-minute piece move at a truly glacial pace. The 12-minute closing title track evokes the sounds and feelings of night, with flute, horn, baritone sax, and violin floating through the electronic textures and piano accents, like the shapes of muted colors and subtle powers emerging from the fringes of darkness. Make no mistake, this is relaxing music, be it a ticket to slumberland or a way to start your day without stress. Another excellent release from a master of organic structures.
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