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

2019-12-11
There's No Time Like the Present – The Belgian band Present has been one of the best avant-rock bands in the world since its formation in 1979. Over the years since then, Present has released nine amazing albums, and now they're ready to start work on number ten. They're looking for some financial help from their fans around the world. » Read more

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Secta Sònica - Fred Pedralbes / Astroferia – [This review refers to a 1994 reissue on PDI. -ed.]Imagine a completely instrumental Allman Brothers, or perhaps more accurately the fusion of the Allman spin-off band Sea Level, then lace it with...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues