Exposé Online banner

Exposé Online

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


Michael Stearns — Morning Jewel - 2024 Remaster
(Projekt 419, 1979/2024, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-06-09

Morning Jewel - 2024 Remaster Cover art

Michael Stearns’ third cassette, from 1979, is perhaps not as well known as Sustaining Cylinders (1978) or Planetary Unfolding (1981) which bookend it, but it is every bit of a rewarding listen as those, especially here in its long-overdue remastered form. Like those others, it contains two long-form pieces, “Morning” and “Jewel,” that occupied each side of the original cassette release, explorative ambient swirling soundworlds plotted against a powerful minimalist backdrop. The two sides couldn’t be more different, but are united by slow, evolving, soft, meditative electronics along with a variety of other instrumentation (acoustic, electric, and heavily processed), field recordings, and wordless vocals. “Morning” opens with field recordings of the sunrise songs of desert birds, and marks a point in his career where Stearns began to collect and utilize ambient sound recordings interwoven with his own original music. Elsewhere in the same piece one can hear the sounds of Mexican children singing along a path from the coast to the schoolhouse, a rooster crowing, and other interesting found sounds, though the core of the piece is still based on synthesizers and electronics, with floating vocals by Stearns and Marsha Lee. “Jewel” is far deeper and mysterious, meditative and introspective, with much of the sound derived from a specially tuned vibraphone processed with a muted attack and slowed down, for a result that’s often much like the tone of bells floating freely in space. Again, the vocals play an important role in “Jewel,” but in a very different way than on “Morning,” a very pure and spiritual sound that is the essence of meditation. All taken, two very different pieces that never sounded better than on this remastered edition, available again for the first time in 24 years. 

Filed under: Reissues, 2024 releases, 1979 recordings

Related artist(s): Michael Stearns

More info


What's new

These are the most recent changes made to artists, releases, and articles.