Review of “Transitions” by Richard Gürtler

Many thanks, Richard!!

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Darwin Raymond & Jacob Newman “Transitions” CDr

Starting with Darwin Raymond, an Ohio based guitar-infused soundsculptor, I must say he is a brand new name to me, while his teammate in this project, Jacob Newman from Colorado, I noticed for the first time back in 2011 when he released on DataObscura a thrillingly textured collaboration “The Vivid Unmapped” with Devin Underwood. To be honest, I first overlooked this release when making my DataObscura order, but fortunately Anthony Paul Kerby (APK), the driving force behind this highly sympathetic Canadian label turned me onto this well-hidden project, and I am now very grateful for his efforts!!! Huge thanks, Anthony!!! “Transitions” CDr is out since the beginning of July 2015 and as usual for all DataObscura physical editions, it comes in a slim poly case, which is very handy, light and stable, especially when it comes to rather longer and pricey overseas shipping nowadays. The artwork is always attractive, identified as a wrap-around insert, printed on both sides. Usually executed by APK (who is also responsible for mastering), but this time Jacob Newman joins the visual part with his photographs.

Focusing on a wintery theme, which is quite common for this label, the album opens with “Beneath A Frozen Moon”. Although some glaciate soundscaping might be expected, the journey reveals gorgeously expansive, yet velvety meanders. Ethereal voice-like drones are hovering above and mingle with soothingly yearning traceries. A really nice introduction to these “Transitions”!!! “The Quiet Air” with poetically silken strings precisely displays the track title, while deeply poignant retrospective drones, hauntingly hazed, emanate here and there along with transiently tinkling contemplativeness. Fragile, sparse and cinematic. This is strikingly evocative aural bliss, bravo, gentlemen!!! “Wind And Winter” promptly elevates into graciously immense monochromatic magnitudes meticulously interwoven with delicate grains and wistful harmonies. Another beauty!!! Glitchy fragments announce “Night, Shimmers”, but the center stage is quickly stolen by deeply evocative stringed subtlety, while transient organics, intangible tinkles and misty reflections precisely interact. Rather shorter with 3-minute length, but utterly captivating!!! “Flames And Shadow”, only a few seconds longer, delves into grandiosely drifting enigmatic paths, again quite flatlined. It looks like more floating pieces on the album constantly alternate with strings-driven nostalgia. The next composition, “A Plains Remembrance”, at nearly 9 minutes the longest piece on “Transitions”, immediately confirms this scenario with richly textured, yet utterly nostalgic electric guitar filigrees delicately surrounded by subtle drone reverberations. Immensely reflective aural paradise!!! “Blue Evening Snow” soothingly embraces the listener with its euphonious sinuousness, spreading across strikingly beautiful crepuscular sceneries. “Frost Covered Field” keeps on a fascinatingly scenic path, this time reinforced by enigmatic opaqueness, where faintly humming monochromatism is bridged with stringed imageries and continuously emerging, gently dramatic cinematic tides. “Fade To Sleep” sustains its monotonously droning surface, while fragile strings commingle here and there, along with distant yearning blankets and vague contemplativeness. My ears are bathed in absolute atmospheric elixir!!! Shorter “Distant Mirage” with its mild undulations might serve here as a transitional piece, because “Re-emerging” quickly attracts us with its heartwarmingly poetic strings backed by grandiosely infinite sky-high drifts and murmuring glimpses. Gossamer guitar magic at its most enveloping in punctilious equilibrium with vaporously sweeping remoteness. A magnum opus!!! “Unseen” follows a rather sinuous route, persistently permeated by gleams of stillness. “Re-emerging (ii) Spring Sun Turning” closes this highly accomplished collaborative effort with voluminously gliding layers coalesced with longing meanders and masterly juxtaposed by diaphanously tinkling chimes.

62-minute “Transitions” exhibits a truly splendid amalgamation of two undeniable virtuosic subtleties. Darwin Raymond’s guitar wizardry is intricately synchronized with Jacob Newman’s dronescaping, and all is impeccably polished. Creative insignias of two talented artists are in full bloom, “Transitions” album is a hidden gem and a must-have for each true connoisseur of distinctive guitar drone auralscaping!!! When focusing on the most recent works of both protagonists, I should add that Darwin Raymond has released several weeks ago his digital album “Honor”, dedicated to all Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, while Jacob Newman has resurrected his collaboration with Devin Underwood and their second CD album entitled “Sending The Past” is out since the end of August on Carpe Sonum Records. Plus two additional solo digital downloads “Quanta Flora” and “Summer” on his credit. And the summertime at DataObscura was quite busy too with three additional CDr albums, Nunc Stans “Further Afield”, The Winterhouse “Slow Awakening”, and Robert Davies “Dwelling Place”. Lots of amazing music to discover!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 25, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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