Jozef Van Wissem

Narcissus Drowning

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A young Dutch performer, Jozef Van Wissem plays both vintage and contemporary lute music, and has a creative obsession with the concepts of backwards or mirror images. While this impacts the music on this CD much less obviously than on an earlier release where he actually played Renaissance lute pieces backwards, here the instrumental compositions have apparently been created with the influence or direction of various palindromes, among other composition tricks. While it would be the fair thing to review the disc itself backwards, there has never been any rule dictating that music reviews be fair. If that was the case, certainly more actual musical description would be in order, as curiosity over what exactly a recording sounds like is the predominant question in the consumers' minds. This is more than ever the case when it comes to a genre such as contemporary lute music, as most listeners would be surprised that there was even such a thing as a contemporary lute to begin with. Van Wissem's sound is lovely, no question about that, and listeners whose dot connecting brings that adjective and the lute together are not going to be unpleasantly surprised by these proceedings, especially when the artist is featured on one of his gorgeous solos. The use of percussion, some of it electronic, creates a harder-edged texture and pulse on some pieces, sometimes to the point of irritation once the repetitive nature of some of the scoring sets in. Gary Lucas is there on dobro for three of the tracks, at one point coming up with a solo that has the sense of intense adventure and motivation that much of this recording seems to lack.

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