"Blue" Gene Tyranny

Take Your Time

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Take Your Time is a collection of works for solo piano (occasionally augmented by electronics) by Tyranny, the pianist/composer known for his long association with Robert Ashley. Who imparted what amount of influence to whom may be a matter of debate, but listeners familiar with Ashley's languid, quirky soundscapes will find themselves on somewhat familiar ground here. Tyranny's pieces operate on dual levels: on the one hand, they're often simply beautiful, romantic songs, drawing on jazz and folk traditions in a manner that veers between pastoral Americana and the cocktail bar. But there's often an ever so slightly disturbing tinge cast over the proceedings, a faint hint of the sardonic, the decaying underbelly beneath all the pleasantries. It's like a Kodachrome family snapshot with hints of mottling seeping to the surface. Several of the works were originally designed for vocal accompaniment, but all succeed quite well on their own. Tyranny tends toward a calmly rambling style, taking the album's title to heart, and prefers beguiling the listener rather than bludgeoning him over the head with his formidable pianistic skills. Some of the pieces, including the chorale-like "A Letter from Home," are just gorgeous meditations on bare-bones themes, the sort of thing that fans of Robin Holcomb will greatly enjoy. But there's almost always that air of disquiet that rescues the songs from any charge of banality. And sometimes, he merely aims for the sublime and hits it, as on "Meditation: Nothing's Changed, Everything's Changed," a stunning, frozen-in-its-tracks piece for "electromagnetically stimulated piano." As "Spirit" closes things out in a harmonic haze, one feels as though having been transported to just a slightly different space, tangential to the usual one, but oddly different. A lovely recording.

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