Exposé Online banner

John Luther Adams — Lines Made by Walking
(Cold Blue CB0058, 2020, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-10-10

Lines Made by Walking Cover art

The work of John Luther Adams should be familiar to Exposé readers — we have been reviewing it as long as he has been releasing music on the Cold Blue Music label, beginning with The Light That Fills the World back in 2002. Adams works as a modern classical composer, creating music for other musicians to play, and this latest release contains two three-part string quartets, in many ways not at all unlike his earlier endeavors of the last decade The Wind in High Places (2015) and Everything That Rises (2018), and like those earlier pieces, the featured ensemble here is the JACK Quartet: violinists Austin Wulliman and Christopher Otto, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell. The opening three-part “Lines Made by Walking” reflects his lifelong interest in hiking and walking, whether it be in the mountains and tundra of Alaska (where Adams lived much of his life), or in more recent years the Mexican desert or the mountains and ridges of South America (Adams currently resides in New Mexico), the music reflects a rich and multi-layered approach where the strings cross and weave interesting patterns, looping, and repeating, lines that are superimposed on themselves, much like the contours of the land that Adams experiences on his afternoon walks. Across the three parts, that total roughly 30 minutes, the music elicits a wide range of emotions, but most importantly a general feeling of peace and tranquility. A second string quartet follows the first, “Untouched,” also a three-parter but around five minutes shorter, which is inspired by The Wind in High Places, where Adams imagined the quartet as a single sixteen string Aeolian harp, with the music’s rising and falling lines and arpeggios coming only from the open strings and their natural harmonics, where the fingers of the musicians never touch the fingerboards. The overall feeling is one of calm and curiosity, with powerful surges rising and quiet cascades on the falling side, never quite resolving but following a stirring, explorative soundworld. Both quartets in Lines Made by Walking offer a gentle and somewhat dreamy listening experience.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): John Luther Adams

More info

Latest news

Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Ars Nova - Ars Nova – If you name your band “Ars Nova” you have to be: a) Serious Artists; b) Sarcastic reactionaries; c) Into psychedelic drugs; or d) Japanese. It’s Latin, for goodness sake, and means...  (2005) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues