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the place we began
John Luther Adams

Cold Blue Records

John Luther Adams is a great underappreciated composer, who has written music of enormous beauty and sophistication while staying true to his roots as an outsider. This latest album actually presents electronic music that was composed in the 70’s by Adams, and he only recently revisted his original reel-to-reel tapes and created soundscapes based upon them. This is what one hears on this new release, and it’s some really great stuff. There are four pieces total, at least three of which are extremely compelling (the only one that didn’t grab me was the third piece entitled in the rain, which reminded me too much of the sounds I listen to on a red eye flight in order to drown out background noise and let me get some sleep).

I really like this album, and anyone who either appreciates Adams’ unique compositional gift or likes soothing electronic music will also gravitate to this CD.

2 Responses to “new “old” works by john luther adams”
  1. David, The press material that I released with this new CD was probably unclear about the genesis of JLA’s music on it. The four works are all completely new (2008) pieces that were built from sounds found on scraps of tape dating from the ’70s that were recently found in a closet in his studio. These are not recordings of pieces, per se, electronic or otherwise, that the composer wrote in the ’70s. These are sonic scraps representing experiemts with sounds (made by acoustic instruments, electric instruments, i.e., Fender Rhodes piano, natural sounds, mic feedback, etc.) that never became pieces at the time when the sounds were committed to tape. So, the new works presented on this CD are not analogous to an old suit cut to meet new style requirements, as I think your review implies. They are, instead, like chipping away at a piece of marble (and old block of earth) to create a new shape. Best wishes,
    Jim/Cold Blue Music

  2. David Toub says:

    Thanks, but I’m not sure I’m saying anything different than what you indicated. As I wrote, “This latest album actually presents electronic music that was composed in the 70’s by Adams, and he only recently revisted his original reel-to-reel tapes and created soundscapes based upon them.” In other words, these are new “soundscapes” based on music he wrote in the 70’s. I don’t see how anything like “an old suit cut to meet new style requirements” was implied or explicitly stated, but who cares? The important thing is that this is a good album. I also did not receive anything other than the CD, so that was the only background material I had to go on, but still got it right in my opinion.

    Tell John I send him my best!

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