Under a Blue Grey Sky is an apt title for this album, as it evokes both the moods and the modes Jeremiah Cymerman employs in the seven-part piece that is this release's raison d'etre. Brooklyn-based composer Cymerman's weapon of choice is the clarinet, but the pen -- or at least the computer keyboard -- is perhaps the mightiest tool at his disposal. He put together Under a Blue Grey Sky as a work for string quartet and electronics (providing the latter himself), for an electro-acoustic tour de force that's split up into "Acts" and an interlude, like a play. There's certainly no shortage of drama here, as the constantly shifting dynamics and motifs bring with them evocations of as many emotions as you're likely to find in, say, your average Eugene O'Neill classic. Things start out with rising clouds of droning, ambient swells, but before you know it, there's some melodic motion underway, and what initially seemed like nothing but puffy white cumuli floating across a placid sky suddenly turns dark and threatening. When the string players begin beating their wings in a bestial, flapping fury, an element of discord is introduced, and soon we find ourselves in the middle of a full-scale thunderstorm. Moving through each section, there are breaks in the clouds, as the strings move into calmer territory, but part of what Cymerman seems to be after here is the abnegation of a black-and-white emotional landscape, and the melodic/emotional shifts are a part of that process. After a low-key, ambient electronic interlude, the final act combines dark, almost Wagnerian grandeur with spare, pointillist settings and subtle, somewhat dub-like electronic touches, to close the piece on a properly ambivalent and contemplative note.
AllMusic Review by James Allen