Arp

In Light

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

In Light's opener, "St. Tropez," the simplest and sparsest piece on an album notable for its simplicity and sparseness, consists entirely of a single two-note figure in a pure-sounding electric piano tone, repeated continuously while a second voice in the same timbre meanders sympathetically, soloistically around it. It firmly and economically establishes a sense of stillness and contemplative calm: not quite the warmth and contentment suggested by the piece's Mediterranean title or the album's grainy cover shot of a sunset (presumably, Arp being Californian) over the sea -- though certainly far from the opposite of those things -- but a gentle, hopeful quietude with the slight air of clinical detachment. A similar sense carries, somewhat less deterministically, throughout In Light, whose title accordingly seems to connote the figurative light of clarity and reason more than the tender, comforting light of the sun, but that doesn't mean that this is a sterile or foreboding listening experience. The gradually mutating analog textures that Alex Georgopolous has synthesized here often have an engagingly natural quality, as does his fluid, intuitive approach to composition, particularly on the indulgently expansive 16-minute "Odyssey," which was recorded in a single, unedited, improvised take. As inviting as these pieces often are -- five of them were initially conceived for an installation wherein listeners would lie in a cozy featherbed nook -- several of them do come off as subtly, unexpectedly unsettling, with vague traces of instability and unease -- barely perceptible discordant flute overtones gilding the lush piano ambience of "The Rising Sun"; woozy high-pitched warbles floating atop the lusciously buzzy "Fireflies on the Water"; and insistent, dizzyingly jaunty arpeggios underscoring the Baroque "Premonition of the Sculptor Steiner." Meanwhile, the striking "Potentialities," which appears first as a wholly synthesized piece with a steady percussive pulse, and then in a largely organic arrangement featuring a string trio and acoustic piano, has a tense, restlessly searching quality. None of this is overtly off-putting, to be sure, but it does create a slight, constant edge that belies and complicates the straightforward simplicity of Arp's minimalist premise, serving as a reminder that light can be cold and stark as well as warm and reassuring, and that neither is necessarily any less revealing, or less beautiful.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
Arp
5:29 Amazon
2
Arp
6:11 Amazon
3
Arp
7:06 Amazon
4
Arp
5:12 Amazon
5
Arp
8:44 Amazon
6
Arp
15:44
7
Arp
6:30 Amazon
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