JOHN LUTHER ADAMS – Red Arc / Blue Veil

(Cold Blue)

John Luther Adams is among the mainstays of that area of composers who gravitate around the orbit of labels like New Albion, Mode and New World. His music is at one and the same time accessible – down to the most elementary component – and crucially impenetrable when the final result is heard. What’s clear right away is that the fruits of Adams’ work introduce a spiritual force of imposing magnitude, so that one instantly tends to link it with powerful natural phenomena or some kind of unknown yet alluring ritual. The four pieces comprised by Red Arc / Blue Veil symbolize a journey of sorts; its extremes – the initial “Dark Waves” for two pianos (Stephen Drury and Yukiko Takagi) and the conclusive, highly charming title track for piano, vibes and crotales (Drury with Scott Deal) – are the scores that mostly tend to that inquisitive crossbreed of gloriously resonant misty minimalism-cum-sound processing privileged by Cold Blue in a fair share of their releases. The central selections, “Among Red Mountains” (Drury on solo piano) and especially the grandiose “Qilyaun” – a bass drum duo featuring Deal and Stuart Gerber idolizing the dynamic laws of otherwordly rumble in a sequence of interlocked accelerandos and rallentandos – are the ones that wake up the listener’s senses a little more violently, also giving an effective demonstration of this composer’s versatility and not immediately apparent technical finesse, many of these concepts utilizing superimpositions of different rhythmic signatures that materialize into something comparable to the shimmering of a water course under the sun. Essentially, this is another gem from the Californian label, for which an artistic misstep or a less than satisfactory release would apparently be considered as a deathly sin.


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