Rick Cox

Maria Falling Away

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If Maria is falling away, she is doing so very slowly and gracefully, as in a dream. On this CD, Rick Cox has put works that all share a sense of space, etherealness, and calm. It won't qualify as new age music, but it can come very close to it at times. The six pieces, written between 1990 and 2001, all rely on Cox's electric guitar to provide the main textures. His playing is non-traditional and recalls Robert Fripp's soundscapes: long tones that have an uncertain status -- they could come from a keyboard, but they are too rich in overtones for that. Each track also features one other instrument to add a tonal color. Labelmate Chas Smith is heard on pedal steel guitar in "All the While Toward Us," while clarinetist Jeff Elmassian contributes long, delicate notes in the title track, which epitomizes the composer's style. The magnum opus is "The Years in Streams," a soft, trance-inducing 22-minute piece. Very cinematic, it seems structured in tableaux of varying densities and hues. After this epic track, "Long Distance" sounds disturbingly out of place. This piece includes an urban beat; the pulse shatters all the delicate atmospheres previously exposed. Jon Hassell's trumpet lines are so predictable they become clichés of his own playing. Luckily, "All the While Toward Us II" closes the CD with the memory of what came before. For the introspective soul, Maria Falling Away offers rich but still accessible music.

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