John Wolf Brennan: piano, arcopiano, sordinopiano, pizzicatopiano, tamburopiano, glockenspiel, Indian harmonium, Irish whistle, kalimba, Hohner melodica, aerofoils/tubes; Tony Majdalani: percussion: steel pan, hang, berimbao, darabula, djembe, udongo, sea shell, bodhrán (frame drum), kalimba, shakers, tubes, voice; Marco Jencarelli: acoustic & electric guitars, bottleneck.
Although most of the 77 minutes of Pilgrims are defined by well-structured improvisations, this is a rather unrepresentative release for Leo Feigin’s imprint. As a matter of fact, the record – published in 2013 – incorporates vignettes and portions whose synchronous abstractions and reminiscent environments inescapably link one’s mind with a soundtrack (which indeed they are – see http://www.meditativemoments.org for more).
Meaning that the music’s architecture is mostly spacious, each musical gesture immediately perceptible, visible in a way. You read the instrumentation, thus no need to restate the obvious in regard to the numerous determinants – from all over the globe – discernible since the beginning. The ethnic lineaments are unforced and perfectly integrated; the occasional appearance of Majdalani’s vocalism is warmly greeted. Strings, percussion and keyboards – including the latter’s “extended technique” derivations – are finely balanced, nary a moment of blatantly inauthentic exoticism in sight. Clear-cut melodies ride natural pulses with the same ease of a boat sailing on a placid sea; zones of heartfelt introspection are followed by openings on often spectacular contrapuntal prospects.
Though superficial comparisons and remote associations are essentially ineffective, I’m pretty much confident that this work will at least partially satisfy those who feel a little better while enjoying spiritually tinged albums from ECM’s golden era (Stephan Micus, Steve Tibbetts, you know what I mean). Ultimately, what should be stressed is that – in absence of genuine heartaches – this gathering of fellow souls sounds totally honest, their interaction resulting into an open smile attempting to melt the proverbial cynic’s inner ice.