Best known, if at all, as avant-garde director Robert Wilson's most frequent musical collaborator (no, not Philip Glass, Tom Waits, or David Byrne), Louisiana-born violinist/composer Michael Galasso has not been much of a presence on recordings. Indeed High Lines follows his previous album, Scenes, by a good 23 years -- and from the evidence here, you can infer without any derogatory inplications why he has stayed away from the spotlight all that time. Galasso's forte is incidental music, background scores that mainly support other artistic idioms, often content to set just a single mood -- in other words, made to order for a Wilson production but not necessarily for a self-contained album. The CD unfolds like a soundtrack album, a series of mostly brief cues with a minimalist ethic underpinning the repetitions. At times, the album resembles a Glass soundtrack, but Galasso is not as predictable as Glass, freely roaming around various world cultures for inspiration, varying his bowing techniques to suit the mood, enlisting the versatile help of guitarist Terje Rypdal, percussionist Frank Colon, and bassist Marc Marder. The CD opens with a stunning mood piece, "Spheric," with percussive noises resembling rushing water. Rypdal contributes deliciously noisy distorted guitar to "The Other" and "Swan Pond"; the latter gets a funky berimbau beat going over a walking bass. "Chaconne" is the tail end of a much-longer work for solo violin, a simplified nod to one of Galasso's original influences, J.S. Bach. It's hard to predict how these mostly slight compositions will stand up to repeated listening, but they are beautifully recorded in the best ECM fashion.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell