Carl Weingarten,
(Multiphase, 2002)

Carl Weingarten has been recording hard-to-classify instrumental music on his own label for a long time, certainly since before the do-it-yourself ethic was facilitated by such things as the Internet and easy CD-burning. He probably predates the "new age" genre, too. I first heard Weingarten's music on WNYC's New Sounds radio program back in the 1980s, so I couldn't resist a chance to see what he's up to these days.

Weingarten plays dobro, ebow, and classical and slide guitars on Escapesilence. He is backed by Brian Knave and Michael Manring on most tracks; some other guest musicians appear as well. Manring is another musician who creates hard-to-classify instrumental music so the pairing is a natural one that works well. Manring plays bass and ebow, while Knave contributes percussion and harmonica and serves as one of the studio engineers. Weingarten produced the album himself.

This is ambient music, but it's not sonic wallpaper; Weingarten's music has more texture and complexity than that. Most of the tracks are short; in some cases this led me to wish that they had been elaborated and extended. The album's total effect is sometimes that of a soundtrack album composed of musical snippets scored for movie scenes. On the other hand, one of the few extended tracks is the uneventful "Pedro's Dream," which I would have liked better had it either been shorter or a little livelier.

There are hints of blues, rock, folk and world music weaving through, but Escapesilence is none of these. The pensive beginning of the album, "Hand in the Sand," is reminiscent of Jeff Lang in his quietest moments. Alex de Grassi appears on the second track, the propulsive "Read the River," which is filled with currents and undercurrents like its namesake. Knave's harmonica enhances the blues feel of "Bone Dog Blues." The aptly named "Child's Play" is almost a waltz, subdued and playful at the same time. Both "Escapesilence" and "The Lover's Dream" are longer, languid pieces; Rosa Koire's sax gives "Escapesilence" some exotic color while Dan Reiter's cello does the same for "The Lover's Dream." Both sound like lovely reveries.

Listeners will be teased by echoes of different kinds of music, and they add to the album's substance. Rather than being a mishmosh of assorted influences, the tracks on Escapesilence draw on these musics naturally so that the end product is all of a piece.

In sum, Escapesilence offers intriguing instrumentals that are well worth exploring.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 7 December 2002

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