Cold Blue

(Cold Blue) Used LP $10.00

In the early 1980s, a loosely connected bunch of young West Coast-based composers was creating a Far Eastern-inflected, nature-influenced, Americana-pastoral music with conceptual roots in the works of an earlier generation of composers: John Cage, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Harry Partch. Pedal steel explorer and master instrument builder Chas Smith’s “Beatrix” is a massive meditation on a single distorted chord that fades and decays into endless overtones. Ingram Marshall’s “Gradual Siciliano,” with its parlor piano and tape-delayed mandolin, creates a lovely-but-foreboding Mediterranean landscape. Peter Garland’s “The Three Strange Angels” is a thunderous ritual for piano and bull-roarers. Michael Byron’s “Marimbas in the Dorian Mode,” is a gentle, organic, Eno-esque pastoral. The album ends with James Tenney’s “Spectral Canon for Conlon Nancarrow,” a piece for player piano and piano rolls hand-cut by one of the progenitors of the West Coast aesthetic, Conlon Nancarrow himself. The piece is at once thorny and melodically gripping.