Alargo "Central Plateau" CD
Alan Brown, a respected jazz pianist based in Auckland, New Zealand, who has joined ambient community during 2015 with his piano-infused debut "Silent Observer", has in the meantime joined his creative, this time electronic-driven forces with fellow renowned jazz trumpeter, tubist and wind instrumentalist Kingsley Melhuish and gave birth to Alargo project. With a quite extensive schedule of live performances during 2015 and 2016 on their credit, at the end of November 2016 their debut CD entitled "Central Plateau" has landed. Released via Pacific Echoes, which I believe is their own label, "Central Plateau" album comes in a catchy 4-panel eco wallet designed by Alan Brown with cover photographs provided by Angus McNaughton, who is also the mastering engineer behind this recording. Additional credits go to P.W. Streekstra (recording, mixing), Mike McMinn (recording assistance) and Christopher John (band photography).
The album unfolds with the title 8-minute composition "Central Plateau", which delves deeply into gorgeously vast cinematic horizons, when meticulously coalescing soothingly introspective expansive meanders, delicately permeated here and there by gossamery fragments, with utterly poignant trumpet evocativeness, wandering from engrossingly wide-screen to queerly ephemeral. An equilibrium of embrace is in full bloom, what a beauty!!! A Hall of Fame composition and an ultimate balsam for my mind and body!!! Bravo, gentlemen, and more please!!! The next piece "Scratch It", which clocks to a 10-minute mark, is a quite distinctive cup of tea comparing to its predecessor. On this composition Kingsley Melhuish exhibits his unconventional approach to wind instrumentality, when bridging his minimal, yet flamboyantly colored experiments with intangibly hissing monochromatic solitaries and nuancing eerie layers riding above. There are all kinds of minimal barks and peeps, sort of "drive nuts" endeavors, but also slowly ascending, more massive dissonant curtains. If I am right, it's the pervasion of conch shells' calls and drones that add a truly transcendental feel to some passages of this bizarrely sculpted sonic mindscape. Although it's not mentioned on the sleeve, I have noticed this composition is dedicated to Philip Dadson, who was one of the prime creative souls on New Zealand's alternative scene as the leading figure behind From Scratch ensemble. "Actopia" runs over 17 and a half minutes and it's again a totally different story. Actually, it unfolds with longing poetic quietudes reinforced by gently fizzling blankets, persistent bass undulations and evocative quena glimpses and vestiges, but after about 5 minutes first chameleonic metamorphose appears and the track shifts into galloping synthetic downtempo paths magnified by trumpet whistles, shrills and filigrees. During 11th minute another transition follows and the composition glides back into serenely encircling drone sceneries embellished by tuba-like murmurs and elusive diaphanous chinks. The closing part mutates into more monolithic panoptic stratum amplified by primordial rumblings, percussive patterns and Suzuki Andes cravings (unique kind of flute/pan pipe/keyboard instrument), all clandestinely surrounded by phantasmal meridians. An adventurously enthralling conclusion indeed!!!
Yeah, the track selection on "Central Plateau" is a quite dazzling, it certainly showcases the potential of this crafted Kiwi duo, because Kingsley Melhuish and Alan Brown strikingly commingle their talents and distinguishably amalgamate acoustic virtuosity, both evocative and twisted, with balmy and wiggly electronic canvas. It's a pity the album clocks only to 35 and a half minutes, because its challenging arrangements, attractive packaging and a glass mastered format would deserve extra one or two tracks. In this case both protagonists would be able to demonstrate their undisputable artistry even more. However, this is my only complain. Otherwise, bravo, Kingsley & Alan, you can be really gratified for what you have achieved with this exciting debut release!!! This is the way to go, keep the fire burning!!!
Richard Gürtler (Jan 06, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)
Explore "Central Plateau" here...
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