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

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-04-15

Continuum Cover art

It’s only been a couple years since Puchiele’s previous release, Move, but he’s most certainly been busy with his main gig, which includes scoring films, television, and more, activities which he has been pursuing for nearly four decades. Like his previous releases reviewed herein, the ‘ensemble’ appears to be a one-man project using mostly synthesizers, though one would be hard pressed to say so with certainty, as well as which synthesizers are being used, as there are no credits, not on his website, not on Bandcamp, nowhere. That’s fine, any good synth geek (which I am most certainly not) can probably listen to any of the eight tracks on Continuum and have a solid idea of the mechanics of how the music is being made; there are definitely a lot of piano-like sounds that are all intertwined on many of the pieces. While descriptives such as minimalist and ambient are applicable to most of the album’s cuts, the contour tends to neither be floating or — for lack of a better term — pretty, instead following the mathematical path of repetitions within a number of textural layers inside the compositions and arrangements; it does float and it is beautiful at times, with those elements even occasionally rising above the surface into grand melodic structures, lighting a path forward, integrating with the textures, fabric and shimmer of each piece. Opener “On the Train” is quite busy and engaging, moving rapidly between ideas while remainig in something of a looping structure as it proceeds. The follow up, “Toward the Tunnel,” is a bit more relaxed and gentle, while floating ribbons of sound descend from above, pushing and pulling as the listener gets lost within it all. Other standouts include the closer, “Atmosphere,” where bright melodic sprites juxtapose with more gentle background layers until a wandering melody of bell sounds join in, concluding the piece with a dreamy swirl, and “Dancing in the Mist,” where a subtle path through the haze is uncovered with a strong, cryptic recurring melody. Fans of the minimalist styles of Phillip Glass, Terry Riley, and LaMonte Young might find Continuum much to their liking.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): John Puchiele

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