American composer Ingram Marshall (born 1942) occupies a unique and distinctive place in the new music scene. Since early in his career, in the 1960s, most of his compositions have included an electronic component such as prerecorded tape, and since the advent of digital technology, the use of live electronics. Indonesian gamelan has also been a strong influence, and not only for the distinctive timbres that attract many composers; the elongated sense of time in much gamelan music has given Marshall's compositions a breadth and expansiveness. Most characteristic of his work, though, is its mood, which has been described as having "a quality of timeless lament, of inconsolable sorrow." It's remarkable that over the course of his career, he has found the means of expressing melancholy in such a variety of ways that he does not seem to be repeating himself. The four works recorded here date from 1976 to 2002. The most recent, September Canons, for violin and electronic processing, is a delicate meditation on the effects of 9/11. The Fragility Cycles ("Gambuh"), for Balinese flute, synthesizer, and live electronic processing, from 1976, is one of Marshall's most characteristic and most frequently performed works. Its ethereal timbres and slowly evolving clouds of sound -- a mysterious blend of the recognizable and unfamiliar -- evoke a huge grief, but at the same time offer a sonic environment for consolation and healing. Part of the appeal of Marshall's work may be that, while it is irrefutably sad music, through some strange alchemy, you can listen to it when you are sad without being made sadder, and can even experience comfort. The performances here beautifully capture the distinctive, evocative sound of Marshall's music, and the engineering is immaculate.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins