In recent years Steve Feigenbaum and Joyce Nalewajk have worked exceedingly hard to expand Cuneiform’s sonic orbit. Their efforts have always been saluted and respected here; as often repeated, around 1987 or so I was already a Wayside Music customer, to signify the importance this imprint has had in my life as a record collector and analyst.
Regrettably, the last batches of releases from the Silver Spring headquarters – as nice-sounding they may be – struggle to make me exclaim “yeah!” with a raised fist. The production’s quality, the fundamental values and the core honesty are still there. What I can’t find anymore is the sense of boldness distinguishing many of the older albums. A case in point (of several) is Turning Towards The Light, thirteen tracks for an ensemble of eleven guitars featuring a number of “names” (check the link to learn who they are) conducted by the nominal leader.
It’s not indecorous music, not at all. However, for the fortunate ones previously treated with the likes of Curlew, Doctor Nerve, Muffins and Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic (*) most of it sounds quite ordinary – melodically, harmonically and in terms of sheer improvisational surprise – where it could have offered a series of tougher challenges to the listener, given the human component’s undeniable worth. In contrast to the prevailing utilization of odd metres and skewed riffs, the timbral palette (**) is perceived by these callous ears as rather uniform; Rudolph’s vision might look advanced in theory, yet is frequently translated into predictable vortexes of semi-clean timbres and atonal noodling among too few genuinely considerable ideas and superficially contemplative interludes.
Count on me to enthusiastically sing the praises of whatever Rune will again manage to tickle my fancy. For the moment, this is the second guitar-based project on the label (after seriously overrated Sonar) that leaves me more or less indifferent.
(* OK, then is then and now is now. But I don’t care).
(** Once and for all, at the risk of sounding petulant: when talking about colors it’s PALETTE, not “palate” as read in an awful lot of writeups – including illustrious rags and websites – and liner notes).