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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Colorlist - The Fastest Way To Become The Ocean (2011) ***

By Joe Higham

"*** LIMITED EDITION 10" VINYL *** The Chicago based Colorlist is comprised of crossover jazz duo Charles Rumback and Charles Gorczynski. Both multi-instrumentalists, Rumback mans percussion, bells and melodica, while Gorczynski plays saxophone, numerous woodwind instruments, synthesizers and harmonium."

This is the start of the press release for the latest from Colorlist, however I will mention immediately that there's also mp3 and Flac versions.

If you look at the mixture of instruments above you'll notice that these two guys play most things and the rich colours that come out of overdubbing these various instruments can at times give the impression of a mellotron at work. But with the inclusion of the drums the direction of the music can change like the weather in unpredictable ways.

The music is a sort of post rock minimalism, using overdubbing with cycling riffs and gentle drum beats, a kind of 'Jade Warrior' meet 'Tortoise' one could say. The opening piece is almost bleak in it's use of looping synths, harmoniums, flutes and a saxophone that calls out like a sound heard from somewhere in the forest. On the second track with Jeff Parker guesting on guitar, the music loops as if taken from a Steve Reich composition, the drums continually driving the piece forward but never dominating the music. 'Coming into Sight' (Tk 3) starts with harmonium in full swing and one wouldn't be surprised to find oneself in a chapel somewhere in the Outer Hebrides, but little by little drums roll in to accompany the saxophones call as if out on the waves somewhere unseen - hence the title I imagine? The last track (#4) finds Liz Payne adding vocals to a piece which relies on a mixture of looped saxes, harmonium, clarinets(?), drums and voice. The music fades away almost as gently as it all starts making a kind of bookend to the mini album.

It's difficult to sum up this short album. I listened to it many time due to it's length and found it interesting but slightly underdeveloped. I wondered what the music would/could sound like if more real time musicians were added (a la 'Fond of Tigers'), giving Rumback and Gorczynski more chance to develop these compositions. However, the music holds together nicely and the album kind of passes by fleetingly as if in a dream (26 mins 34 seconds).