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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jim Fox, Black Water

Cold Blue Music, the avant tonal/ambient label out of Venice, California, has hit on an excellent idea that I hope will catch on. It's the offering of a modern classical CD "single," generally speaking a single work of contemporary music lasting 20-30 minutes. I do believe that if the music is really "new" and the length suits that format that it does help you concentrate and "bracket" that work alone instead of otherwise dealing with a complex set of unrelated compositions grouped together in the standard 80-minute CD. I am not saying that full-length CDs should be done away with, but that the supplementary singles idea is well suited for works that don't necessarily belong together with other works and can breathe more freely on their own.

I covered a few Cold Blue EP singles on these pages over the summer. Today another one, this by Jim Fox, entitled Black Water (Cold Blue 0037). The work is from 1984, fairly early in Maestro Fox's body of work, but inimitable nonetheless. The score calls for three pianos, ably played via overdubbing by Bryan Pezzone.

It's a shimmering, undulating work with multiple tremeloes and emphatic chordal periodicities building together and evolving to create harmonic-motor movement. There is a flowing yet dense layering throughout that suggests water in motion.

The music exhilarates and engulfs the senses in a very satisfying way. And it does so with originality and ambient drive. It is a work better heard than described for its all-over dramatic poeticism. If you do not know Jim Fox's music, and you should, it is a good place to start. And it has a singularity that's well worth experiencing even if you have heard others of his.

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