Exposé Online banner

Valarie Morris — Transformations
((Not on label) VM049602, 1997, CD)

by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-05-01

Transformations Cover art

Like an artist's sketchbook; that is, in essence, what Transformations presents itself as. Most of the titles were written for small groupings of winds, piano, etc., but are rendered simply on keyboard, utilizing samples imitative of the intended instrumentation. In the case where synthesizer was the instrumental medium of intent, it works well. Often, however, the stock timbres mar what could have been something more pleasing, or leave the music shy of completion. What may sound great played on an acoustic flute, usually requires lots of studio tweaking to transcend the sound of a mere sampled flute. Valarie's education and impressive musical background hold her in good stead — a graduate of Mills College, she proves thoroughly her compositional clout. The music is well constructed, displaying a keen ability for unifying that few rock musicians possess. It's just in the area of production and conception that I find things to be wanting. Some titles are only sketches, the bare basic bones of an idea, but bereft of enough effort in execution to make them successful. As befitting this kind of sampler, we run the gamut in styles. Of the thirty small-scale pieces, I would rate eight of them as really substantial. "Outzone" and "Do a Duet" are both clever and convincingly well-composed. "Fourths" is by far the strongest of any. "Cellular" is a serious work that would sound great in a chamber ensemble setting; "Space Song" and "Improv" are both effectively rendered synthesizer music, and as such are idiomatic for her instrument of choice. "African Island" portrays a good ear for percussion scoring. Again, acoustic percussion would have made all the difference in the world. Not out of any kind of purist motive, but simply for appropriateness. This album works more as a reference to the source material representing Valarie's compositional resumé. Perhaps this was intentional; she is a busy professional composer with much experience scoring soundtracks for theater and other projects. But for an actual recorded release, I would prefer a writer to conceptualize an entire homogeneous work, using acoustic instruments where appropriate.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 12, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Valarie Morris

Latest news

2019-10-06
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

2019-08-20
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

2019-06-05
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

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ars Nova - Transi – This latest offering from this Japanese power keyboard trio is a bold step forward from their 1992 debut Fear and Anxiety. For starters this one is a full length disc; more to the point, though, is...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues