[24 February 2010]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Is this what they call a supergroup? Bill Wells, Barbara Morgenstern, Stefan Schneider, and Annie Whitehead each has carved out his or her own unique place in our musical landscape, in the realms of jazz, electronic, ambient, and experimental music. Paper of Pins is their second LP as a quartet, and instead of a grand statement by a gathering of geniuses, it comes across as quiet and playful, which suits the artists’ personalities well. Each has a role: Wells on guitar, computer, and samples; Morgenstern on various keyboards; Schneider on synth and bass; and Whitehead on trombone.
Together, they make gently probing little tuns and question marks, interesting and pleasing to the ear. Imaginative like a child, it’s peaceful and emulates nature, and it’s filled with quiet surprises. This is a coming together of like-minded seekers. Highlights are the quieter-than-quiet, and fierce and strange, reverie “Tributaries”, and the longest piece here, the meandering “Loitering With Intent”, where the instruments wonder together. The whole thing holds together well, as a quiet statement and a rewarding listen.