Other Weather – Spotted Peccary Music SPM-3702
Ambient electronic instrumental music that is based on acoustic instruments including piano, cello, viola, violin, French horn, clarinets, flutes, and small percussion, blended subtle and exquisitely with electronica from a Roland FA 06 workstation, Ensoniq ASR 10 sampling keyboard, and an iPad equipped with the Animoog app. All of the music on Other Weather was composed, arranged, and produced by Jeff Greinke. The album was recorded at Another Room studio, in Tucson, and Invisible Studio, in Seattle. The Seattle session was engineered by Rob Angus, and Howard Givens of Spotted Peccary Music mastered it all.
1. About the album Other Weather
High-level stratocumuli form clouds open out before me, an enchanted world of the genus cirrocumulus forms, where snow begins when moist air at high tropospheric altitude reaches saturation, creating eloquent ice crystals or supercooled water droplets. Other Weather presents with eleven pieces, chiefly excited by movements taking place high up in the air. The overall mood of Other Weather is subtle, the sound is primed for interpretation, like clouds, with a huge vista appearing solid while being gentle. The sound possesses a quite extraordinary range of different timbres and vibrates along with the air inside it. The sensation is of the instruments having a conversation or perhaps painting a picture, always truly beautiful, and often formed by woven piano with strings and various wind instrument combinations, a complex satin fabric of sound.
2. The tracks
The opening track…
…celebrates the vibrant introspective ascendance of the piano, the gossamer light texture of spirit and form floating in the sky, slow, supernatural and dreamy, with subtle electronic highlights and drifting melody fragments. “A Stretch of Sun” (04:35), Greinke makes use of the extra brightness, which vibrates to produce appreciable magic.
Full, lustrous, and metallic, a clear, clean, and brilliant sound, “Rain Through the Night” (04:00), is an introspective piano and percussion exposition, building out of the heart of darkness and joined by subtle sensuous deep strings with a mellow, dark and rich tone. My favorite track of this album is “Falling Sky” (05:19), coming in with very distant cold shimmering glimmers of tones, subtle glimpses of approaching astral matter traversing from so far away. A dreamy piano emerges from electronic clouds that hang there.
Cumulus clouds are rounded masses heaped upon each other above a flat base that hangs in the sky. These are the big puffy clouds you see most of the time, but they can appear to be quite huge and rise to fantastic distances. Cumulo is a Latin word that means heap or pile. “Rising Cumulus” (04:27) features a piano joined by bowed strings, building to great heights, massive acoustic forms accentuated by emerging electronics and shapes that continue on and on, building and ascending, a thread woven through, blending and balancing, a beautiful, mellow, sweet tone. Depending on the atmospheric conditions, cumulus clouds can eventually turn into other types of clouds, including storm clouds, also known as thunderheads or cumulonimbus clouds.
Dark and sonorous impressions above…
…an insulating blanket of diamond dust, what you will hear is an orchestral meditation on a big-sky winter horizon, an endless horizontal vanishing point under an infinite outlook. The hunter-magicians play their musical bows, Heather Bentley on cello, viola, and violin; Greg Campbell on French horn and small percussion; Alex Guy on viola; and Paris Hurley on the violin. “Snow Across a Windswept Plain” (09:05), interleaving a slow, melancholic section, the snow drifts with the wind leaving sastrugi forms, which are the wave-like ridges caused by wind erosion on the surface of mature snow.
Greinke sometimes intrepidly includes the squeaks and bowing sounds that real instruments make, and that adds a lot of emotional depth to the pictures that he paints with his compositions, thus the sound characteristics of the violin are not predetermined by the score, but their presence is accommodated to bring about a deeper realization of the intended compositional design.
From silence there is a lustrous distant sound, we are drawn in closer and pause to hear some fine details, then we float on beyond the source, and our perception of the sound fades, the music possibly forever continuing in our absence. Piano and classical guitar glide together using subtle phasing techniques to layer up lots of depth and gradual motion across the sky, to create a tone poem that defies categorization, “Clouds Like Flying Saucers” (04:19). Now join a search for new resonance and a new type of voice for the keyboard dream machine, “Outflow” (04:38), with electronica arranged in changing layers, bits of piano sustaining this solemn transfer, with sparkles and hints of complex forms hidden inside.
A storm chaser is someone who…
…travels to locations where severe weather is forecast, as a hobby, or to study it, or perhaps just to take photographs. The sound of the track titled “Storm Chaser” (05:41) features strings plucked in simple stuttering patterns, emerging like gentle rain, met with slowly glowing electronica which brings breezes from different directions, and color with texture associated with the sweet, round, dark, and rich earthy cyclic forms that come about following a storm. Next, behold a piano emerging like the gentle sun, slowly covering the wet earth with warm and joyful light, discovering bright new complexities and patterns while easing away the puddles and dripping surfaces, “After the Rain” (03:49) with its colors constantly changing, mixing melodic motives to create a fabric of refreshed air and calm cleansing.
Shelf ice occurs when floating pieces of ice are driven by the wind, piling up on the lee shore. The track’s title, “Icebreaker” (07:26), made me think there is going to be a crushing sound and shattering sheets of ice, but to me the music is actually about delicate arctic poetry, cold shivering strings take form, joined by woodwinds and haunting brass, featuring Heather Bentley on cello, viola, and violin; Greg Campbell on French horn and small percussion; James DeJoie on clarinets and flutes, with the sound perhaps portraying the electromechanical properties of ice and its nano rheology (the flow of sub-microscopic crystalline water matter). In the final analysis, what I am left with is a dream about traversing the vast northernmost waters.
Music within the light and elegant…
…ambient standards, proceeding like a stream of veiled consciousness that determines the degree of freedom you have at any given moment, “Across the Sky” (05:41), is imagination let loose, to swoop and drift, ephemeral hesitant piano mirages engaged in a sort of echoing conversation that is often disjointed, distracted by flights of distant electronic birds becoming audible now and then. The empty sky is calm, interwoven seamlessly into the overall compositional texture, with distant constellations and falling stars isolated in the vastness overhead.
Composers sometimes seek new timbres, art music once modeled on Baroque and early classical forms can now emerge free from traditions. Central to the story are the tensions and the intimacy developed between the musicians, the composer, and of course, the listener, but this distinction is far from rigid. Acting now as a strange composite being that is never alien to the concert hall, yet free to dwell anywhere and be conjured at any time by the touch of a button, the moments of true intimacy occur whenever the spirit moves one to give oneself up to it. Enter a zone of magic, a close understanding of shared musical experience that is performed by a small number of performers.
4. Where to buy Other Weather?
You can buy the album Other Weather at the store of Spotted Peccary Music and Bandcamp.
Written by Robin James, February 17th, 2021
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