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Solstice
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 June 2011
This music seems a world away from the warmth of Bjornstad, Jarrett, or Weber's own albums, with a stark, crystalline quality created by the stripped sharpness of Towner's guitars and Garbarek's reeds. It has a disciplined, 'classical' feel overall, so that the instruments seem to glitter and sparkle in the austere acoustic. In this recording environment there is no room for error, and the quality of the diamond-bright playing doesn't disappoint, Towner and Garbarek alternately seizing the melody line, and using it to explore the full range of their instruments. Christensen and Weber provide a warm, safe platform from which the soloists explore the territory, discovering some plangent and haunting sounds on the journey (especially in the brief but otherworldly 'Visitation').

All the pieces are by Towner, except 'Sand' which reappears in another guise in Weber's magnificent Yellowfields. 'Oceanus', the opening track, gives the greatest scope for the soloists to stretch out, and their solos develop and augment the crystalline soundscape and its mysterious territory very effectively. However, 'Drifting Petals' provides a warmer, more luscious contrast to all this austerity, and is doubly welcome as it is such an exquisite piece, evocative and enchanting in equal measure. Be clear: this is not an ECM album to relax into, but it is a very high quality example of consummate professional musicianship. Penguin Jazz Guide ****
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2013
The following extraordinary points should be given:

Most curious things in the first half of this recording are, to me, the first [Oceanus] and third [Drifting Petals] songs, which remind me in both the title and musical content of, respectfully, The Ocean Song [from Pat Metheny: Watercolors] and A Lotus on Irish Streams [from Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame]. The feeling is of a strange sameness despite the different measurable identities.

A less curios thing is that the flute theme form 'Nimbus' reminds me of an ECM record by Eberhard Weber - 'The Colours of Chloë'. Towner-Christensen duo funk-number 'Piscean Dance' is again, to me, very reminiscent of the long intro to 'Dancing Girls' [from NHOP Trio: To a Brother]. The piece must also contain the far most inventive version ever recorded of the basic rock/pop-beat on the drum set!

The whole recording is a marvellous masterpiece, including the two short numbers, which are _not_ fillers. This album does not have as much straight-ahead melody as it has _hidden_ melodic content, something that reveals itself by concentrated listening. An example of an element guised in the atmosphere is the appearance and disappearance of the tenor saxophone from, and to, inside of the long, sustained notes of Eberhard Weber's cello [in the first piece]. Ralph Towner plays _excellent_ classical guitar on 'Winter Solstice', a part which could be from any end-of-19th-century Spanish guitar masterpiece. (As well, listen to a little but significant musical "trick" at the end of Drifting Petals, which is not often heard. )

Sum up: I truly recommend this album, if you want to hear a most inventive, imaginative and masterfully performed piece from the ECM catalogue. This is not new age music, but music of a mostly refined and contentuous character. Buy it if you want to take the challenge of getting art-like popular music to really focus on.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2009
This is a meeting of the original 'Colours' and 'Solstice' ECM house bands. It shows Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, Jon Christensen, and Towner himself at the peak of their musical prowess. From the roaring hard reed saxaphone sound of Garbarek, cascading 12 string from Towner, rumbling upright bass of Weber and crashing percussion of JC - a classic ECM album
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on 30 June 2015
One of my favourite albums. World class.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2010
This fine reissue dates back to 1975,and it still retains its sense of magic,thee magnificent opener features an incredible confidence,Towner leads a masterful display of musicallity,that belies and hols testement to the 35 years sinse the originals release
Jan Garbareck,Eberhard Weber and Jon Christensen all play well on this track.
"visitation"is a short experimental soundscape,with slight psychedelic leanings.
"Drifting Petals" sounds more traditional with Towner on Piano sounding absolutely beautiful.
"Nimbus features Towner playing a very delicate acoustic guitar which
suddenly breaks into a more upbeatsection halfway through.
"Winter solstice"continues the more upbeat mood with yet more fine playing from all concerned.
"Piscean Dance" features a more funky beat than all the other tracks and consequent is perhaps less tunefull,but still highly listenable.
"Red and black"is the albums shortest track,and is stunning.
"sand" is a Virtuoso performance from the whole ensemble.
Summing up then, a marvellous album,well produced and packaged.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2014
I will not talk here about the music from this great album. The music is magnific.
I will tell you about how it sounds. And the word is VERY DISAPPOINTING !! Of course I have compared it with the vinyl version. Somehow I was expecting a difference in favor of the vinyl support. But not at this level ...
First of all, the sound level is very low, compared to the vinyl. And trust me, there is no discrepancy between the Phono and CD input sensitivity in my audio gear ... Further, all sounds on CD are compressed, flat, lifeless. In one word a very bad CD transcription.
I don't know who "Touchstones" is, but here they have done a quickie ... maybe just used a mp3 source ?!
Just buy a second-hand vinyl copy of this record and you will see what about I am talking ....
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2003
The solstice band were certainly a pretty amazing sound. The combination of Garbareks piercing sax and the tumbling sounds of Ralph Towners 12 string guitar really hit a peak on Nimbus. The whole album may isnt as uniform as ECM can be, but perhaps its all the more interesting for that.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2012
I have loved this record since first buying it as an LP. Garbarek pre MOR tedium, Towner masterfully in control, Weber still the cool old guy and Christensen quietly inventive and just right. Perhaps a post Weather Report time capsule but thrillingly recorded and giving wide ranging moods. 12 string never sounded so good. Try this then buy sounds and shadows.
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