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Not just outside the box, but denying the existence of boxes.
Covering music from the fringes since 1993.


Michael Byron — Halcyon Days
(CB0065, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-03-22

Halcyon Days Cover art

Byron’s career as a composer began in earnest in 1972, though most of what we have reviewed in the pages of Exposé has more recent origins. Four of the five pieces on Halcyon Days are culled from those earliest works from 1972 to 1978, pieces that are based in tuned percussion — vibraphone, xylophone, marimbas, glockenspiel, tubular bells, piano, and maracas. Yeah, we know that maracas are not really tuned, but they are used on at least one of the pieces here to good advantage. The centerpiece of the album is the 34 minute, three part “Music of Steady Light” composed in 1978, a somewhat minimalist excursion through three different scenarios, stated with a different variety of percussive elements in each part. The piece is performed by the four-piece William Winant percussion group on marimbas, xylophones, glockenspiels, and vibraphones, each with its own profile and character. I have to admit being reminded of some of LaMonte Young’s works, though Young’s would be strictly an endeavor for piano. Here, the combination of different instruments as the piece proceeds makes for a powerful and intensely beautiful concoction. The opener, “Drifting Music,” starts with a repeated note on tubular bells, joined in time by what sounds like a chorus of Tibetan bowls swirling and beating with an unmistakable resonance and shimmering beauty as it slowly fades back to the bell that started it all. “Music of Every Night” is a very quiet and subtle piece, maracas gently opening like insects in the night, followed with a subtle melody on marimba played by Winant alone. “Starfields” is a piano piece for four hands, performed by the Ray-Kallay duo (Vicki Ray and Aron Kallay), a mysterious, almost random sounding piece of minimalism Byron composed in 1974, where one might hear the influence of Daniel Lentz. The closer is another piano piece, solo this time, “Tender, Infinitely Tender” performed by Lisa Moore; it’s the only recent composition here, from 2016, though it certainly seems informed by Byron’s early endeavors from the 70s. With every piece taking a different turn, it’s easy to be drawn in to the emotion and beauty of Halcyon Days.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Michael Byron

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