Alex Cline

Alex Cline: The Lamp and the Star

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Percussionist Alex Cline's first album as a composer demonstrates, right out of the gate, the man's knack for conjuring timeless, elemental music. Minimal ambience opens most tracks, with Cline's love of Asian percussion evident via gongs and Tibetan singing bowls. In "Emerald Light," these bowls create a meditatively soothing yet wholly alien radio signal, paving the way for Aina Kemanis's hauntingly clear "la la" vocals which entwine seamlessly with the brooding strings of Jeff Gauthier's violin. Eric Von Essen's sadly bowed bass on "Accepting the Chalice" speaks of the deep connection between the sorrows of the universe and free jazz. Cline's connection to states of higher consciousness through music is clear with titles like "Altar Stone" and in this way his compositions fuse Western instruments and tonalities with Eastern meditation, the balance of silence and sound, and an elegiac sense of reverence. The way Kemanis's vocals condense organically out of the nothingness in "Altar Stone," or the way thundering drum rolls give way to falling string showers in "Eminence" betrays Cline's profound grasp of music's connection to the natural world. The similar and essential SPARKS FLY UPWARD and THE CONSTANT FLAME followed this album.

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