PETER GARLAND – The Landscape Scrolls

Starkland

First things first. Being able to release high-quality records for a 40-year span is remarkable in itself. But when you think that Starkland’s Thomas Steenland has been doing it alone (a one-man army, as rightly noted in the press blurb), a “hats off” becomes mandatory following a perusal of the label’s roster and discography.

The trend continues with a new effort by Peter Garland, a composer more influenced by the far-reaching resonance of existence than anything else – and his “else” would be sufficient for four normal lives, if you take a mere look at his CV. It is just fitting, then, that The Landscape Scrolls is an album for percussion only: each piece is built upon a definite instrument, all handled with discerning prowess and evident inner composure by Jon Lane.

The cycle comprises renditions of different times of the day soundtracked by a specific instrumental attribute. In “Mid-Day”, Chinese drums depict now rolling, now vibrant rhythms halfway through a Native American ritual and Stravinsky’s “Rite Of Spring”. “Sunset” employs rice bowls to emphasize the minimalist character of the melodic material; picture a joyous gamelan soloist, though this writer – for some reason – was also vaguely reminded of Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase”. The mesmerizing “After Dark”, scored for triangles, makes the most of upper partial subtleties and extended reverberations to lull our brain into oblivion, whereas “Late” is a short episode in which cascading glockenspiel arpeggios produce a gently dissonant aural dust. The final “Early Morning” is the longest portion at nearly 20 minutes of length; its tubular bells invite to rise from the ashes of quotidian cheapness. Variable groups of notes are interspersed with inactive spots inhabited by the inherent harmonics incorporated by the individual pitches.

Everything is clearly stated and totally attractive, repose of the mind connected to gratification of the ears. Repeated spins are going to add layers of meaningfulness to the moment we’re living in, whose preciousness nobody seems to remember anymore.

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