DENNIS REA – Views From Chicheng Precipice


As a rule, this reviewer is averse to the close association of contemporary orchestrations and traditional matters. However, guitarist Rea – who, for the occasion, added various Asian instruments to the palette – did a competent job in these five reworked tunes derived from ancient Chinese and Taiwanese melodies spiced with electric shades and just a hint of Western rhythmic accents (the latter particularly evident in “Kan Hai De Re Zi”). The titular is aided by twelve collaborators, including acclaimed trombonist Stuart Dempster and a vocalist – Caterina De Re – whose performance in the lone track she participates in is unusual to the point that, for a short-lived moment, I had thought about a new kind of synthesizer. Rea demonstrates that his keenness for the original source is authentic; especially in the 16-minute “Tangabata”, the impressions evoked by the musicians through their reflective interaction is more than adequate for the enjoyment of instants of unconditional serenity. Ample spaces and slow, simple melodic designs performed with the right mindset and correct dose of heart work wonders if the respect is there. At first, one tends to perceive this as a postcard album – the immediate adjustment to the material does affect a superficial judgement – but upon frequent listens the substance, corroborated by an actual research that goes well beyond the mere “facsimile” status, is made visible. A honest, utterly decent record that stands an endurance test without problems.

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