Exposé Online banner

John Luther Adams — The Wind in High Places
(Cold Blue CB0041, 2015, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-02-06

The Wind in High Places Cover artAdams’ latest release is a collection of three works for string ensembles. On these three, Adams functions as the composer only and does not perform on these pieces, instead relying on the four-piece JACK Quartet, consisting of two violins, a viola and a cello, on the opening title piece (three movements), and on the closer “Dream of the Canyon Wren,” and The Northwestern University Cello Ensemble for the four part “Canticles of the Sky.” Interestingly, inspired by the sound of Aeolian wind harps, all the sounds on the three movements of the title suite are produced as natural harmonics or on open strings, the musicians never touch their fingerboards. On “Canticles,” the rich, dense sound of the 48 piece cello ensemble results in a sound that at times resembles a pipe organ, with slowly unfolding evolutionary changes in tones and shimmering nuances that are reminiscent of the wide open spaces and glaciers of Adams’ home Alaska. These first two pieces are truly captivating and wondrous, reaching an almost ambient feel at times, blending slow-moving tones and spaces into beautiful, tranquil vistas of iridescent light. All that changes on the closer “Dream of the Canyon Wren,” which is a bit more avant-garde and experimental, with the four players winding their way through a time-stretched, disorienting theme and numerous cavernous passages, sounding almost as if someone is speeding up and slowing down an old tape recorder. All taken, this is a radically distinctive collection of pieces that begs for repeat listens.

Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): John Luther Adams

Latest news

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

A.C.T. - Silence – I'm new to this Swedish quintet, but have to say I'm mightily impressed. In a nutshell, these guys have come up with a prog rock take on what Queen were doing in the mid 70s. Other reference points...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues