Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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Artist: Jess Rowland (@)
Title: The Shape of Poison
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Rated: *****
Here’s how the press release describes the disc: "Shape of Poison, for solo piano performance and electronics, mixes unique live electro-acoustic experimentation with cut-up gamelan, crunched-out Casio tones, and other uncharted sonic landscapes." OK - sounds promising. Unfortunately this disc is pretty heavy on the piano and very light on the experimentation. It’s not bad, but it’s not what I was expecting. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say it’s sort of like Nature and Organisation’s "Death in a Snow Leopard Winter" or perhaps Feu Follet & Miina Virtanen’s "The Icicle Lectures Vol. 1" without the drones. Let’s look at the individual tracks. "The Waves Sound Sometimes Close and Sometimes Far Away": This is pretty much straight piano improvisation. It’s nice, but it doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. "A Dragonfly Vainly Tries to Settle onto a Leaf": Piano with some noisy elements, but not terribly chaotic. "Kotekan Seniman Alam/Waves Fade into the Distance": This twenty minute track is by far the standout on this disc. It’s a lot more engaging, mixing slow but heavy piano with fast paced gamelan. It almost sounds like two separate tracks, with a long pause about six minutes in. The track later goes back to straight piano for the most part, but I really wish that the rest of the disc was more like this track. Overall, the disc is a pleasant listen, but not terribly demanding. This seems to just flirt with the idea of experimental music. This disc weighs in at 44 minutes.

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