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Monday, April 25, 2016

Erik Platz - Life after Life (Allos Documents, 2016) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Erik Platz's debut disc,  Life After Life is an atmospheric outing made from a unique pairing of instruments. With the help of James Falzone (clarinet), Leanne Zacharias (cello), and Don Benedictson (bass), percussionist and composer Platz takes the time to develop an environment for the group to take his compositions on an inward journey. Throughout, a thoughtfulness permeates the album. 

An evolving theme entitled 'Life after Life' appears interspersed between the album tracks. It's a short melodic phrase that keys the listener into its arrival (if you're not looking at your playlist, of course) and acts as a sort of touchstone. Falzone's rich tone on the clarinet really shines throughout the recording, his piercing tone balanced by the deep textures of the cello and bass. This pairing of strings lends a lovely dark hue to everything - especially in the klezmer-like melodies that are spun in 'Seeds of Life'.

Of the other tracks, 'Blood Meridian' is a standout - it's a complex and layered cycle of ideas with short melodic snippets that grow, often reaching a peak, then dissolving, connecting loosely to the next idea via textural percussion passages. These sound fragments and ideas come together in an unusually intriguing sequence of events.  The closer, 'Marrakech Highline', while nicely constructed and based on repetitive patterns and very gentle tones, is perhaps a little too gentle for my ears. However, that is a tiny complaint about this nicely conceived and constructed recording.

Check out 'Seeds of Life" from Life After Life here, it's a captivating and slightly mysterious tune that is worth spending some time getting to know: