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John Puchiele Ensemble — Change
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-12-10

Change Cover art

As on the three albums before this, John Puchiele’s ‘Ensemble’ is his array of keyboards and synthesizers, all played by Puchiele himself, who composed and arranged all of the seven tracks. The subtitle Journey of a Changing World might provide some clues as to the composer’s inspiration for this set, but in fact the music at hand, an ambient journey that stretches out in all directions, is actually gentle and quite beautiful, far more so than some of the individual titles might suggest. The opener, “Burning Winds,” builds slowly from darkness, with subtle shimmering nuances of tones mixing together and pushing the piece forward to its dreamy conclusion; the sounds are unapologetically synthetic, a feature that works well throughout the seven cuts. With “Level Rise” the listener will hear a more defined piano melody at work amid swirling sheets of dreamy synthetic beauty. “An Alternate Green World” finds gauzy layers of colorful synth juxtaposed over one another in a way that reminds me of parts of Fripp and Eno’s Evening Star. The seven-minute three-part “Stages” is divided into Before, Now, and After, though its three parts aren’t that clearly defined in a musical sense, as they flow together quite gracefully, sporting energetic, softly sequenced patterns of color and light. Beginning with some unusual sounding percussives, almost like something one might hear of the floor of a factory, “Time’s Up” comes together over a period of almost five minutes, always looking forward and never looking back, it’s the strongest use of percussion on the entire album. Like a subtle warm breeze, “Ecology Adrift” returns to a gentle synthesizer sound much like the opener, but with a unique soft-sequenced melody that creeps in slowly and builds over the piece’s seven minute duration. Closing the set dramatically is “Water Blue,” a soft synth journey built on two alternating chords that slowly tone-morph over the duration, slowly adding in additional elements that build its strength and mystery. In spite of it’s seemingly delicate nature, Change is a powerhouse of vaporous beauty that delivers on a number of different levels.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): John Puchiele

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