Exposé Online banner

Various Artists — Cold Blue Two
(Cold Blue CB0036, 2012, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-07-04

Cold Blue Two Cover art

The Cold Blue label has been around since the early 1980s, producing a number of excellent vinyl releases, then a few years later they folded up shop, only to re-emerge as a CD label a decade later maintaining the same high standards and musical focus, with many of the same artists. This compilation, featuring fourteen different pieces by as many artists is an excellent way of introduction to their “sound.” Most of the material here falls into what could be considered new-classical, chamber, minimalist or post-minimalist music, essentially a composer’s forum for new ideas on not-so-easy to categorize musical fronts. Most of these artists were based in Southern California originally, where the label itself is from, but that’s certainly no longer the case; Gavin Bryars, for example, is from the UK and has a large body of varied classical work to his credit. Daniel Lentz is another innovative composer with a large body of work on many different labels; his offering here, a piece for multi-tracked cello opens the disc nicely and sets the mood for all that follows. Chas Smith is a composer and an instrument maker; his contribution here is a haunting five minute lapse into some dark and foreboding sounds of mysterious origins. “Prelude to Alone” is Michael Jon Fink’s ode to solitude featuring a trio of clarinet, trombones, and his own electric guitar. Rick Cox offers “Later,” a beautiful chamber trio piece or piano, two clarinets, plus light samples and electronics near the closing moments.

It’s worthy to note that on a number of these pieces, the composer doesn’t actually perform personally. Such is the case with John Luther Adams’ “Sky with Four Suns,” where a string quartet breathes life into this beautiful and haunting post-minimalist conceptual piece. Phillip Schroeder’s piece “Another Shore,” for celestra and delays finds beautiful bell-like sounds arranged in varied looping patterns that flow and ebb throughout its four-minute duration. James Tenney’s composition “Mallets in the Air” for Partch diamond marimba in just intonation is realized by a quintet that includes two violins, viola, and cello, and is one of the most interesting pieces here; and continuing the just-intonation, it’s followed by Larry Polansky’s “Eskimo Lullaby,” performed on National steel guitar, one of the only pieces here that features vocals. Closing the disc is Jim Fox’s appropriately titled “Colorless Sky Became Fog,” a surreal piece featuring hammered dulcimer, piano and strings. And that only summarizes about half of what’s here. Cold Blue is one of those labels that truly has its own recognizable sound, and this compilation is a compendious introduction that I can wholeheartedly recommend.


Filed under: New releases, 2012 releases

Related artist(s): Chas Smith, Phillip Schroeder, Ingram Marshall, Rick Cox, John Luther Adams, Read Miller, Gavin Bryars, Michael Jon Fink, James Tenney, Larry Polansky, Peter Garland, David Rosenboom, Jim Fox

Latest news

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bob Nell - Soft and Bronze – Bob Nell has been playing jazz piano for nearly 30 years (mostly with drummer Brad Edwards) supporting jazz icons such as Ray Brown and David ‘Fathead’ Newman. His latest set of eight pieces...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues