There’s quite a backstory to Chris Schlarb’s debut solo album. The Long Beach, CA jazz guitarist and producer. Twilight & Ghost Stories is the result of five years’ field recordings and solicited contributions from—by my count—at least 26 musicians, the kind of project that literally saves a life. The way it worked was that Schlarb collected musical ideas—as sparse as a piano phrase or clip of spoken word—without foreknowledge of how they could be incorporated into the fabric of his composition, with the result being a kind of aleatoric and random collection of sound. There are ten tracks on the 40-minute Twilight & Ghost Stories, but I couldn’t find individual names for them anywhere: either way, the whole thing flows together under waves of rain and white noise. These ambient noises may be the only unifying factor in what otherwise feels like a somewhat inscrutable collage, the point of which is, to say the least, obscure. Plus, the thematic and musical changes are so glacial that you need a certain kind of trusting patience, as well as an appreciation of experimentation. Occasionally, as on the third track, the layers of artifice peel back to show something real: as the waves of sound give way to big prairie cymbals and a tremolo piano figure, the music is momentarily visual and almost majestic—a true evocation of the country’s big sky.
// Sound Affects
"History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats. Keep your finger on important issues, and keep listening to the 275th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1982 masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.READ the article