Michael Byron — Bridges of Pearl and Dust
(Cold Blue CB0057, 2019, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-11-12
For a number of years, composer Michael Byron has been on Exposé’s radar, beginning with his 2003 full length release Awakening at the Inn of the Birds, and more recently 2019’s Fabric for String Noise and the 2015 single In the Village of Hope, always completely surprising music (all are completely stylistically different) but thoroughly excellent. His second release of 2019, Bridges of Pearl and Dust, is technically a single, but it’s nearly sixteen minutes in length. The piece is a complex, contrapuntal and polyrythmic workout for four vibraphones, all performed by Los Angeles based percussionist Ben Phelps. The piece is at once busy and peaceful, a tightly interwoven fabric of sounds that may seem random on a casual listen, but surely is tightly and beautifully composed, shifting melodic colors sparkling from the heavens in a perfect performance, and there are many masterful points where key changes occur that underscore the brilliance of it all. If the listener allows themselves to be immersed in the wonder of it all, it may be reminiscent of a soft suite of Javanese gamelan, though there is little cadence here, it just flows throughout very naturally. The listener can choose to pick out the four vibraphone parts if they like, but it’s never completely clear which parts are leading and which are following, perhaps none of them are doing either, but from a listener’s standpoint it all works together like a finely tuned machine, offering a variety of different views to the core of the overall texture. Another comparison might be with La Monte Young’s Well Tuned Piano, though slowed down and truncated. Any way one experiences the sound, Bridges of Pearl and Dust has a lot to offer the listener that welcomes a challenge, though it must be restated that what’s on offer here is completely listenable, and quite beautiful.
Related artist(s): Michael Byron
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more