cold blue music

Cold Blue is a label with a recognizable aesthetic and a unique focus on post-experimental and post-minimalist music, particularly as found in California and the American West. (For more information about the label go to www.coldbluemusic.com.)

"I don't see the point in art that doesn't take any risks. Fortunately, Cold Blue does that for us, and does it all the time." — Harold Budd

"The Cold Blue label is again setting the highest standards in an area of musical endeavor where banal facility can be a danger." — The Wire

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS Four Thousand Holes (CB0035)

Adams writes music that draws much of its inspiration from earth's primal forms and forces. These large, elemental concepts are never far below the surface of the music on Four Thousand Holes.

The two works that comprise this CD—constructions grown from a blending of process and intuition—maintain a focus on music's inherent sensuality. The title piece, a bold, wonderfully quirky work amasses and blends multiple tempo streams of triads with electro-acoustic "aura" to create a beautiful sense of suspended time. The other piece, ...and bells remembered..., for percussion quintet, spins forth a quiet, gently clangorous world of ringing tones. (Bar code: 8 00413 00352 6)

“Adams is one of the most original musicl thinkers of the new century." —Alex Ross

"An enticing instance of how complexity in sound can be allowed to happen rather than being calculated down to the last detail ... which has seldom been realized with the poise and creative self-effacement shown here … John Luther Adams is a major figure and this disc—small but perfectly formed—is a notable addition to his discography." —Richard Whitehouse, International Record Review

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS Red Arc/Blue Veil (CB0026)

Powerful, monolithic music for piano(s), percussion, and electronics, featuring pianist Stephen Drury, percussionist Scott Deal, and others. This is music that combines architectural and multi-tempo/polyrhythmic processes with a passion for lush surface textures. It ties together extremes—shifting color fields and monochromatic planes; quietly shimmering textures and "noisy" roars; the wild and the constrained.

Exploiting the rich musical colors of piano and percussion and, in the case of the CD's first and last pieces, the subtle interplay of ghostly electronic "auras" (sampled and processed sounds derived from the acoustic instruments) this music shows the composer's admitted affinity for the ways in which light and color are addressed in the work of a number of visual artists, particularly James Turrell, whose work has had a significant influence on Adams. (Bar code: 8 00413 00262 8)

“Adams’ music sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to." —All-Music Guide

"The sound of this music is that of overlapping planes of sound … this is music from someone who knows who he is and what he wants." —Fanfare

“The variety of dreamy textures Adams achieves with a few simple materials is lovely." —Kyle Gann, American Music in the 20th Century

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS The Light That Fills the World (CB0010)

Three darkly textured pieces for bass clarinet, marimba, vibraphone, piano, organ, violin, and doublebass: The Light That Fills the World, The Immeasurable Space of Tones, and The Farthest Place. Performances by Marty Walker, Amy Knoles, Robin Lorentz, Bryan Pezzone, and others. Adams' recent work tends to transcend his compositional devices. It is compelling, quietly expressive music that seems timeless in its sublimity. (Bar code: 8 00413 00102 7)

"Whenever I hear this music I am mesmerized by something I can only call truth." —Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men

"Adams's music can be superficially described as the intersection of two diverse influences: Feldman and Cowell ... his scores bear the ubiquitous marks of Cowell's multitempoed rhythmic structures ... The Feldman influence manifests itself as a delight in delicately balanced sonorities used as recurring images ... The variety of dreamy textures Adams achieves with a few simple materials is lovely." —Kyle Gann, American Music in the 20th Century

"Landscape pieces, long, sustained harmonies with puffs of arctic winds blowing the sound one way or another ... as much snow-strewn color as sound (but pleasurable in either guise) ... beautifully played. — L.A. Weekly

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS the place we began (CB0032)

Mysteriously evocative electro-acoustic works that the composer built from short recorded moments—audio fragments—of his early music. This is not a trip down Memory Lane: In the place we began, Adams has reappropriated and transformed these sonic fragments into completely new works that speak to his current musical interests and directions, especially his recent installation pieces. (bar code: 8 00413 00322 9)

"Adams's major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music." —Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"His music is haunting and quite unforgettable. … Lou Harrison called Adams 'one of the few important young American composers,' and he might just be right." —MusicWeb Int'l

"Out of many eligible composers of his generation, John Luther Adams is the greatest proponent of the American experimental tradition, a lineage that includes Ives, Cowell, Varese, Partch, Nancarrow, Cage and Tenney." —Sequenza 21/Contemporary Classical Music Weekly

"…shimmering, vast, luminous, ecstatic…" – Kyle Gann

"Each of the four pieces here has its own character and vocabulary of sounds, yet they flow together to create a coherent, cohesive whole. … This is a recording one can easily get lost in. Indeed, it's one of the most ravishing examples of electro-acoustic music I've heard in many years." —Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone

"Surely among Adams's most evocative and personal creations. … Recorded with the clarity and presence typical of Cold Blue Music, The Place We Began would seem an ideal point of departure for those who have yet to encounter the music of a composer whose thinking gains in resonance and, more to the point, relevance with each new release." —Richard Whitehouse, Int'l Record Review

MICHAEL BYRON Awakening at the Inn of the Birds (CB0012)

Michael Byron’s music is one of contrasts, noted for its intertwining of minimalist and maximalist techniques and rigorous processes with freely composed music. In its unique way, it reconciles traditional notions of beauty with boisterous, almost-out-of-control instrumental writing. This CD collects four of Byron’s recent works and a new recording of a piece from 1981, performed by some of today’s most-respected new-music champions, including Sarah Cahill and Joseph Kubera on pianos, Kathleen Supové on synthesizer, and the FLUX Quartet. (Bar code: 8 00413 00122 5)

"One is reminded not only of the time-bound nature of sculpture (one must move around a piece to fully experience it), but the mobiles of Alexander Calder, which are both fixed and moving. And, like Calder's work, Byron's music is immediately comprehensible and beautiful, while it remains experimental." —Dean Suzuki, San Francisco Bay Guardian

"It’s wonderful that music can have such power to (en)lighten the soul and that Michael has the gift to so empower us." —Richard Teitelbaum

"Byron creates maximalist effect out of minimalist means." —ClassicalNet

MICHAEL BYRON Music of Nights Without Moon or Pearl (CB0002)

Michael Byron writes dramatic, lovely music that bares its compositional process as it unfolds. This CD presents two lush, insistent works for strings and keyboards, Music of Nights Without Moon or Pearl and Invisible Seeds for James Tenney, and a barn-burner of a piece for four pianos, Entrances (performed by David Rosenboom). Reviewing the premiere of Music of Nights ... , the Los Angeles Times wrote, "An atmospheric score loosely tethered to a pulse, it's a gently disjointed assembly of parts, ever on the verge of falling apart and coming together. And that verge, an entrancing and minimal place to be, is the point." (Bar code: 8 00413 00022 8)

"Pieces lovely in their cloudy string textures and abrupt piano riffs ... it all breathes the air of pre-Silicon Valley California." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"Cascades of swirling music ... sincere, technically challenging musical art with a distinct point of view." —Fanfare

"Deeply engaging pieces." —International Record Review

RICK COX Fade (CB0020) CD single

Fade, beautiful, casually evolving music for guitar, piano, bass and electronics, extends Cox’s continuum of lush, elusively shaped music. It featuring the composer's idiosyncratic guitar playing and performances by Thomas Newman and Peter Freeman. [25 min.] (Bar code: 8 00413 00202 4)

"... one of the most engrossing records this year so far—and one of those instances when, in terms of duration, less is not more."—Massimo Ricci, Paris Transatlantic

"Rick is a hidden master of the crepuscular and the diaphanous." —Ry Cooder

"If you imagine floating through the night sky on a large abstract tapestry, you’ll get a feeling for what Cox’s music is like." —Fanfare

"... the music of Rick Cox ... its tones and timbres are subtle and suggestive, exploring a dark world where strange things are happening in the shadows." —Incursion Music Review

RICK COX Maria Falling Away (CB0006)

Six elegant, sensuous soundscapes in which emotions seem to bubble just below cool surfaces. Much of this harmonically rich and texturally subtle music features composer/performer Cox's innovative and idiosyncratic electric guitar playing techniques (which include the use of preparations and unusual objects setting the strings in motion). Other performers joining him on this CD are celebrated composer/trumpeter Jon Hassell, popular film composer Thomas Newman (piano), and composer/performer/instrument designer Chas Smith (pedal steel guitar). (Bar code: 8 00413 00062 4)

"Gently undulating melodies are held in soft focus, without becoming cloying; his enveloping harmonies are less innocent than they first appear. Prettiness with a tough core." —The Wire

"Very cinematic, it seems structured in tableaux of varying densities and hues." —All-Music Guide

"Its tones and timbres are subtle and suggestive ... strange things are happening in the shadows." —Incursion Music Review

MICHAEL FAHRES The Tubes (CB0024)

This collection of music by award-winning composer and radio producer Fahres, weaves naturally occurring acoustic phenomena with the playing of celebrated performers to produce hauntingly intimate music. (Bar code: 8 00413 00242 2)

The title piece features the breathy sounds emitted by the rock tube formations on the island of El Hierro (the westernmost of the Canaries) and performances by Los Angeles-based composer/trumpeter Jon Hassell and Aboriginal musician Mark Atkins; produced by Michael Hoenig, The other works on the CD are Sewan, recorded near Lake Sewan (Armenia), featuring Armenian singer Parik Nazarian, and Coimbra 4 – Theatre Mundi, a celebration of the sounds of Coimbra, Portugal.

"I was transfixed by the haunting sounds and the poetic pacing of Fahres' music on this CD. Rather than the sound floating through the room, it was as if I was floating in the sound." —Morton Subotnick

"Fahres is skillful in creating drama and blending the recorded materials into intriguing, musically satisfying soundscapes. The Tubes, which lasts over 30 minutes, is an especially impressive achievement." —All-Music Guide


MICHAEL JON FINK I Hear It in the Rain (CB0004)

Music for solo piano, solo celesta, multiple clarinets, and electronic instruments. The fragile piano works and the celesta piece display Fink's command of forms that are Debussyian in beauty (and occasionally in gesture) yet maintain a distinctly contemporary distance from their musical materials. The multi-clarinet work is a dark, slow-moving study in texture and tone color. The title piece is moody, insistent music that glistens with electric timbres, particularly Rick Cox's electric guitar work. The Los Angeles Times has described Fink's music as "lustrous" and "metaphysically tinged" and likened it to the work of composer Morton Feldman. (Bar code: 8 00413 00042 6)

"... unapologetically tranquil ... coaxing substance from seemingly vaporous materials." — Los Angeles Times

"Spare, refined, wholesome, satisfying. . . harmonically beguiling. ... Fink is on to something. Check it out" —Michael Barone, Minnesota Public Radio

"... the ethereal feel of Satie and the dreaminess of Debussy." —All-Music Guide

"All very evocative." —International Record Review

MICHAEL JON FINK A Temperament for Angels (CB0017) CD single

Music that combines equal measures of beauty and grit. Moody, elusively shaped textural music that is compelling in its power and grace from its very first violin note to its final shimmer of decaying cymbals. For an ensemble of violins and cellos, percussion and electronic/sampled sounds. [29 minutes.] (Bar code: 8 00413 00172 0)

"An impressive, beautiful CD single that offers up a seamless, elegant ‘cloud’ of sound" —Gramophone

"Dense, slowly changing sounds, atmospherically gloomy and harmonically quite subtle." —The Musical Times (London)

"A Temperament is much darker than its title might suggest—informed, as it is, by the harsher concept of terrifying beauty written of by Rilke... a steely sonic environment . —NewMusicBox (Amer. Music Center)

"A miniature masterpiece." —Sands-Zine (Italy)

JIM FOX The City the Winds Swept Away (CB0015) CD single

Music for trombones, strings and piano. Fragile music of rarefied and quietly rumbling harmonies that, like drifting clouds, seem to float in and out of "view." Music that is both motionless and moving forward with a strange sense of inevitability. [23 minutes.] (Bar code: 8 00413 00152 2)

“Beautiful and evocative work.” —John Schaefer, WNYC, New Sounds

"Though just under 23 minutes, The City and Wind Swept Away ... seems to linger in the air (and the ear) much longer. Delicate and open throughout." —Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

"Attentiveness to the integrity of slowly passing sound events can be a strangely moving experience. It is so here." —Int’l Record Review (UK)

"Music that ... feels as if it could go on endlessly ... music that comes from the classical tradition, but that feels like it belongs somewhere other than the concert hall, ... texturally rich, meticulously crafted and delicately beautiful." —Dusted magazine

JIM FOX descansos, past (CB0021) CD single

Descansos, past is moody, intimate "in memoriam" music for double bass and a choir of nine cellos led by new-music-champion cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick. [15 min.] (Bar code: 8 00413 00212 3)

" ... lush bleakness that evokes the windswept open spaces of the American West. ... brooding lyricism ..." —John Schaefer, WNYC, New Sounds

"... a work of noble mourning; its ... playing that is full-bodied and unerringly precise, the string textures glow warmly." —Int'l Record Review

"… immediately appealing … " —Raymond Tuttle, ClassicalNet

"... aural poetry, like an inscription on a tombstone to be read with a faint smile instead of tear-stained eyes."—Paris Transatlantic

"You won't want to listen to anything for a while after you've heard this." —Frank J. Oteri, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

JIM FOX Last Things (CB0001)

This recording brings together two of Fox's haunting electro-acoustic works, The Copy of the Drawing, for spoken (whispered) voice and electronics, and Last Things, for bass clarinet (performed by Marty Walker), pedal steel guitar (Chas Smith), piano, and electronics. (Bar code: 8 00413 00012 9)

"Suffused with a beautiful sadness." — Fanfare

"An austere, ethereal experience." — The Wire

"Sounds that seem to echo across a timeless void. Imagine a view of the sky on a brilliantly clear night, from an uninhabited part of the world: Fox’s music invites one to believe that if the stars, constellations and galaxies emitted sounds, these unearthly harmonics are what one might hear." —International Record Review

KYLE GANN Long Night (CB0019) CD single

Long Night is exquisite, mobile-like, ever-focus-shifting music for three pianos that's wonderfully performed by noted new-music-champion pianist Sarah Cahill. [25 min.] (Bar code: 8 00413 00192 8)

"...if this is a long night, let it go on and on." —Marc Geelhoed, TimeOut Chicago

"It’s a beautiful and original piece, with ‘family’ links to such composers as Harry Partch, Henry Cowell, Conlon Nancarrow, and John Cage, and with allusions to ‘nature’ and the ‘East’." —Int'l Record Review

"Kyle Gann is ... a commanding presence in the landscape of American music. ... his music is passionate, fiercely intelligent and one of a kind. Gann's music embraces a broad range of influences but sounds like no other." —John Luther Adams, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

"If I had my way, Sarah Cahill would be declared a public treasure and forbidden to ever leave the city limits." —Berkeley Voice

PETER GARLAND String Quartets [1&2] (CB0031)

The premiere recordings of two spirited and enticing quartets that draw on the composer's well-traveled ear and great sense of personal vision. Both works move with a unique sense of grace and a sincerity of expression that is purely Garlandesque. Performed by the celebrated British ensemble Apartment House, led by new-music cellist Anton Lukoszevieze.

For thirty years, Garland’s music has been marked by a radical consonance and a simplification of formal structure. Recordings of his music have been released on the Cold Blue, New Albion, Tzadik, Mode, Avant, Toshiba-EMI/Angel, What Next?/Nonsequitur, and Opus One labels. (bar code: 8 00413 00312 0)

"Peter's quartet [No. 1] is the most beautiful thing since Corelli." —Lou Harrison

"[Garland] is an avatar of an experimental American tradition ... a composer of mesmerizing music; and in many ways, the musical conscience of my generation…. Garland's work always brings increasing cognitive involvement; it is much more intricate than it sounds at first." —Kyle Gann, Chamber Music magazine

"In the 51 minutes of this graceful record, finely played by Apartment House, you won’t find an unnecessary note or phrase. … the first sensation experienced as soon as 'In Praise of Poor Scholars' begins is one of accomplishment, of inner quietude. The last verses of T’ao Ch’ien’s poem from which the piece’s title originates are: 'Know your strengths, keep to trodden ways. Who hasn’t known cold and hunger? Those who know me: if they are no longer here—that’s it then. Why complain?' … The musicians perform Garland’s tantalizing score with agile susceptibility and ecstatic sentiment."—Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes (Italy)

"We find here a love of richly layered, slowly moving harmonies and sweetness akin to sadness, a beauty so deep it hurts." —Sequenza21

'I feel he [Garland] is one of our true originals." —Robert Carl, Fanfare

CHRISTOPHER HOBBS Sudoku 82 (CB0033)

This spare, beautiful, spacious 20 minutes for eight pianos was composed utilizing systems derived from sudoku puzzles and the GarageBand computer program.

Hobbs is an English experimental composer, a pioneer of British systems music., founder of the Experimental Music Catalogue, and an early member of both the Scratch Orchestra and AMM. A combination of strict rigor and audience-friendly surfaces is typical of most of his work since 1970, as is his use of cheap (toy or amateur) electronics. His music has been recorded on the Obscure Records/Editions EG, Experimental Music Catalogue, Sonic Arts Network, Advance, Matchless, and Black Box labels. (bar code: 8 00413 00332 8)

"The ever-stylish Christopher Hobbs is a master of subtle surprise. This haunting music is both strange and familiar, and balm to an alert ear and keen intelligence." —Howard Skempton

"It's clever stuff ... Hobbs disposes his sounds with charateristic grace." —Brian Morton, The Wire

"Through its quiet intensity—not unlike the music of Morton Feldman—the piece changes one's entire perception of time. My watch said 20 minutes but it could have been anywhere from a moment to an hour." —Ken Smith, Gramophone

"Buy this and love it for it is very special music. It lives long in the brain after the disk has stopped playing." —Bob Briggs, MusicWeb Int'l

DANIEL LENTZ Los Tigres de Marte (CB0016) CD single

Swirling, compelling music with wildly branching roots touching everything from Debussy and Delius to bop to techno. Sometimes lush and enveloping, sometimes brittle and percussive; sometimes suspended and motionless, sometimes agitated. Featuring noted new-music clarinetist Marty Walker with string quartet and electronic keyboards. [16 minutes.] (Bar code: 8 00413 00162 1)

"When it comes to attempts at musical seduction, Daniel Lentz's music is way out front." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"By intriguing his listeners at the same time he wreathes them in smiles, Lentz always comes up with something listenable and worthwhile. That’s certainly true of this new release." — Gramophone

"Sonically dense music . . . music of near orchestral force and scope." —Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

"One is immediately immersed in a beautiful landscape" —ClassicalNet

DANIEL LENTZ On the Leopard Altar (CB0022)

Shimmering, pulsing music built of unique additive structures for singers, keyboards, and tuned wineglasses by seminal West Coast experimental and post-experimental composer Lentz. (Bar code: 8 00413 00222 2)

"Driving energies darting and thrusting toward unseen destinations. On the Leopard Altar is a study of sonic polish and forward motion." —Mix

"On the Leopard Altar, with its multiple vocal, keyboard and wineglass parts, haunting neo-romantic melodies, and unusual additive and subtractive structures is a remarkable collection. Lentz's music inhabits what he terms a musical "state of becoming," where both new and reappearing musical and textual fragments are fused through complex layering processes. However, the real basis of his seductive music may be the dreamy impressionism of Debussy and the lyrical voice and keyboard interaction of Schubert's lieder." —John Schaefer, WNYC, New Sounds

"The panting pulse of the four voices added to the four keyboards in Is it Love? is delightful, just like the phonetic games of Wolf is Dead, featuring a similar line-up. Lascaux draws its deep harmonies from a glass harmonica—wine glasses, specifically. Simple and delicate, the voice in On the Leopard Altar is meant to be lightweight and dreamy, and the same thing applies to the more ritual voices in Requiem resonating with the electric piano's celestial reverb." — Classica-Repertoire (France)

"...a ravishing suite of compositions...one doesn't merely listen but rather surrenders to its seductive pull." —Ron Schepper, Signal to Noise

DANIEL LENTZ Point Conception (CB0028)

This CD combines Lentz's wild nine-piano tribute to the octave, Point Conception (originally issued as a Cold Blue LP in the mid-80s), with Lentz's previously unrecorded NightBreaker, a kaleidoscopic and explosive tour de force for four pianos.

An exciting roller-coaster of a work, NightBreaker ambles, jumps, careens, pauses, and flings itself forward. Point Conception amasses and bubbles over with incessant streams of octaves (harmonic and melodic) running the length of the keyboard. Both pieces revel in and comment on the late-19th-century harmonic language. Perfomed by long-time Lentz Ensemble pianist Arlene Dunlap noted Los Angeles pianist Bryon Pezzone. (Bar code: 8 0041 30028 2 6)

"Two absolutely gorgeous works for overdubbed acoustic pianos." —Electronic Musician magazine

"Point Conception … might be thought of as an example of maximalist minimalism; an intoxicating construction built out of layer upon layer of lines awash in octaves. ... Here it's clear that Lentz has moved beyond minimalism as he reworks the great 19th-century piano tradition in unusual ways." — Signal to Noise magazine

"A wonderfully churning, whirling, oceanic soundscape that occasionally calls La Mer to mind." —Stephen Eddins, All-Music Guide

"Point Conception grabs you and never lets go. It has ... that peculiar "avant-garde-but-oh-so-easy-to-enjoy" feel one consistently finds in Cold Blue’s catalog." —François Couture, All-Music Guide

"Lentz has devised a unique bit of piano literature. It simultaneously glorifies the acoustical grandeur of the grand piano and regales its legacy with technology and sly insouciance. Point Conception is Lentz's backhanded answer to the cool purr of ambient piano music. Such is the typical Lentz reply; tossing knuckleballs into extant musical traditions, but doing so with disarming grace."  —Los Angeles Reader

"Point Conception ... a rollicking process piece." —Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

CHARLEMAGNE PALESTINE A Sweet Quasimodo between Black Vampire Burtterflies (CB0025)

A stunning 40-minute work for two grand pianos recorded live at the famed Maybeck hall in Berkeley, California, February 2006. (Also includes brief a capella "ritual" songs and Palestine's short spoken reminiscence of his life in California 35 years earlier) (Bar code: 8 00413 00252 2)

"Palestine has a way of choosing notes so as to tremendously affect the thickness of the sound and create panoramic variety (and even microtonal anomalies) among the overtone masses he is creating, sort of a one-man acoustic Glenn Branca symphony." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"Palestine's work offers sonic sculptures to be thoroughly inspected and savored at every moment." —Dean Suzuki, Wired

"A sensuous and compelling sonic experience." —All-Music Guide

"A compelling concert experience." —Sequenza21

"An experience never less than pleasurable." —Int'l Record Review

STEVE PETERS from shelter (CB0018) CD single

Spare, undulating music written for choreographer Lane Lucas’s dance/theater work Shelter. Three violas casually stroll through their notes leading to an alluring voice and piano music that is perhaps an extended coda to the string music that preceded it. Features violist Alicia Ultan and vocalist Marghreta Cordero. A Sequenza21 "Best CD" for 2005. [16 minutes.] (Bar code: 8 00413 00182 9)

"Pure, restrained and rigorously beautiful." —Alvin Curran

"The work of Steve Peters is of excellent quality. ... the suspended resonances and the ethereal voice of Marghreta Cordero create a fantastic atmosphere, mystical and visionary." —Sands-Zine (Italy)

"Open-space lyricism and beatific atmosphere ... vivid, stark, and alluring." —Dusted

"This is a gentle, social, considerate piece; each component supports and is supported, sheltered and given shelter, by the others." —Int’l Record Review (UK)

STEVE PETERS The Webster Cycles (CB0027) CD single [30 min.]

Steve Peters is a composer/sound artist who, drawing inspiration equally from the experimental tradition and a wide range of the world's folk musics, readily integrates improvisation and open forms into the work he creates for dance, theater, radio, public spaces, and concerts.His single movement The Webster Cycles is a beautifully coherent yet ever-changing piece that shifts its texture and harmonic focus as if its individual parts (six trombones performed via overdubs) were refractions of a giant aural prism. All trombone parts were played by noted trombonist/composer/electronic musician J.A. Deane, whose eclectic list of recording credits include Jon Hassell, Butch Morris, Jon Zorn, Brian Eno, and Ike and Tina Turner. The wonderful, subtle inflections and tonal shadings that Deane brings to each phrase imbue the piece with a vibrant, palpable sense of energy and motion. (Bar code: 8 0041 30027 2 7)

"Peters's music Š has in abundance what I miss in so much new American music: strong commitment to an aesthetic goal, and adherence to that goal without compromise. ... Bring on more Steve Peters!" —Sequenza21

“The overlapping trombones heard in The Webster Cycles immerse you in 30 minutes of incantatory bliss—imagine floating into an ocean-sized harbor bounded by distant foghorns. Essential." —Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger

“Deane is a soulfully expressive musician and, despite the calm and coolness of Peters's music, his interpretation has immediate emotional appeal as well as seductive depth." —Julian Cowley, The Wire

"A gorgeous, minimal piece ... Solemn and spacious ... Subtle music for late evenings." —Vital Weekly


LARRY POLANSKY four-voice canons (CB0011)

Over the past 25 years, Polansky has been composing a series of fascinating mensuration canons (a formal concept dating back to the Renaissance) that run the sonic gamut from wildly boisterous to serenely introverted. This disc collects thriteen of these canons (one of which is found here in three different realizations) with instrumentations including marimbas, gamelan, electric guitars, children's voices, computer, choir, and chamber ensemble. Performances by and collaborations with William Winant, Jody Diamond, Daniel Goode, the York Vocal Index, Ray Guillette, Nathan Davis, Nick Didkovsky, and others. (Bar code: 8 00413 00112 6)

"This West Coaster-turned-Dartmough prof is the heir apparent to the Cowell/Nancarrow/Tenney genius experimentalist mantle." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"An unashamedly tactile approach to musical material, forging an oblique angle to tradition. ... cool and elegant ... it’s a mark of his resourceful mind that he can adapt the basic rules into a series of such complex and varied works ... Polansky’s canons show the extreme liberties that can be born from such exacting discipline, given imagination and willing." —The Wire

"This is one of the best discs Cold Blue music has issued since the company’s revival two years ago." —Int'l Record Review

CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS Last Cicada Singing (CB0034)

Four serene yet deeply emotive pieces for solo qin (a Chinese zither-like instrument). Quiet, sparce, slightly eerie, almost Feldmanesque. Performed by the composer, who mastered the qin while living and teaching for many years in Taiwan. Christopher Roberts has a previous release on the Cold Blue label, Trios for Deep Voices (double bass trios).
(bar code: 8 00413 00342 7)

"So Confucius walks into a bar, just in time for Bill Evans's last set, and after closing time pulls out his qin for a few solos … That’s the vibe that Christopher Roberts captures in these intimate nocturnal musings where crystalline harmonics dance among gutsy bass slides while elegant harmonies whisper their most private thoughts. A truly haunting recording." —John Schneider, Host of KPFK's "Global Village" and Director of MicroFest

"Christopher Roberts's music is exotic compared to nearly any music you are likely to think of." —Malcolm Tattersall, Music & Vision

"Roberts bends his instrument in new directions entirely, turning it westwards even as he faces east." —Ken Smith, Gramophone

"Roberts here plays the qin, the venerable Chinese zither-like instrument. It’s of course not like traditional qin music because Roberts suggest such disparate elements as Delta Blues and Ralph Towner, achieving an end product that’s neither East nor West but a synthesis that does honor to both frames of mind. Like classical Chinese solo instrumental playing (or Ralph Towner, for that matter) Roberts makes silence work for him. Nothing is forced; all sounds as if it has existed for a very long time as part of a previously unimagined tradition. The tension between experimentation and conservatism is irrelevant here. All of this makes this album very much one to recommend." —Richard Grooms, The Improvisor

CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS Trios for Deep Voices (CB0030)

Five intimate movements/pieces for a trio of double basses performed by the composer and two other virtuosos of the instrument, Mark Morton and James Bergman. This music, much of it inspired by the composer's life in Papua New Guinea, where he studied and lived music's "natural prosody," subtly extends the double bass's standard playing techniques with such expressive elements as bowing patterns inspired by the sound of hornbills in flight. (Bar code: 8 0041 30030 2 1)

"A magnificent piece! There's nothing like it. Roberts has a truly unique voice." —Bertram Turetzky

"An elegantly reverberant, harmonically rich and gracefully delineated composition for resonant strings." —Julian Cowley, The Wire

“Roberts has arrived at a new American music by traversing the heart of Papua New Guinea ... and the result is something unique.” —Michael J. Schumacher

"A remarkable disc. ... Recommended." —Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger (Seattle)

"Trios for Deep Voices is thoughtful music, beautifully worked out, and very absorbing to listen to. It’s wonderfully individual, both in its sound and its construction. Clear some space in your life, both literally and figuratively, and give it a listen.." —Greg Sandow

"This is a visceral work ... a unique, original, refreshing, and pertinent set of truly global double bass trio music." —Bass World magazine

CHAS SMITH Aluminum Overcast (CB0007)

This recording of breathtakingly spare textures utilizes the same unique instruments that composer/performer/instrument designer Smith employed on his popular earlier recording Nikko Wolverine. These include resonators that sprout rods, which are bowed and struck; large, clangorous sculptures of titanium; and vibraphone-like arrays of metal plates. The music plays with the listener's sense of time (the perceived pace and the clock pace at which musical events take place) as it progresses, the spare slowly drifting to the dense. This is an exotic music unlike anything else. (Bar code: 8 00413 00072 3)

"... musical experiences utterly out of the ordinary. ... Smith's pieces are music of experiment and discovery: a way of enabling the physical world to 'speak' by investigating, harnessing and organizing its sonic properties. The extraordinary sound-world of Smith's articulately structured music captivates from the start." — International Record Review

"His music is a sound apart" —Los Angeles Times

"With Smith's music, the sounds are as compelling as his concepts and instruments." —The Wire

"Smith, musician, composer, engineer, metal craftsman and inventor is a classic American original." —New Times (Los Angeles)

CHAS SMITH Descent (CB0023)

Composer/performer/instrument-builder Smith offers strangely beautiful and compelling soundscapes scored for his unique sound-sculptural instruments, steel guitar and electronics. (Bar code: 8 00413 00232 1)

"Chas Smith composes and performs epic soundscapes ... music that reflects the wide-open spaces of the American West. ... closer attention reveals his subtle layering of instrumental textures. The overall effect is of a shimmering, reverberating soundscape, extraordinarily evocative of the boundless spaces that clearly inspired it: an endless desert under a throbbing sun." —The Wire

"Smith is surely also one of the most original composers working anywhere today." —Int'l Record Review

"Chas Smith's pedal steel and 12 string dobro are as evocative and quintessentially American as a crackling neon light outside a desert motel at sunset." —Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

"The two long pieces that make up most of Smith's new release, Descent, are his most powerful and focused work yet." —Kevin Macneil Brown, Dusted Magazine

CHAS SMITH An Hour Out of Desert Center (CB0013)

Chas Smith—composer, inventor, instrument builder, and performer—has created his own musical world, complete with its own instruments and "language." It is a world of carefully sculpted textures that never sit absolutely still, textures that evolve and are always in the process of a slow change of aural perspective. Critics have repeatedly compared Smith’s sometimes beautiful, sometimes brooding compositions to those of Ligeti. The three pieces on this new recording feature the composer performing on pedal steel guitars, composer-designed-and-built crotales and sound sculptures, zithers, and a 1948 Bigsby lap guitar. (Bar code: 8 00413 00132 4)

"Like famed composer and instrument builder Harry Partch, whom Smith readily acknowledges as an influence, Smith creates unsettling music that is both beautiful and eerie." —Electronic Musician magazine

"Smith has a penchant for long tones and drones, as well as an ear and love for magnificent sonorities. From his creations, as well as his pedal steel guitar, he elicits sounds that suggest thunder, approaching jetliners, electronics, screeching machinery, and much, much more. And he doesn't merely string together gimmicky sounds; he integrates them into sumptuous compositions that range from delicate, lyrical vignettes to grating, sometimes horrific tone poems." —Dean Suzuki, San Francisco Bay Guardian

CHAS SMITH Nakadai (CB0029)

Nakadai, which KPFA Folio/Other Minds Radio called "one of the most explosive LPs of the '80s," is a set of works that offer a catalog of musical "waves"—from ripples to tsunamis. It features Smith playing pedal steel guitar—solo, overdubbed, and with a mallet percussion quartet of Bob Fernandez, John Fitzgerald, M.B. Gordy, and Theresa Knight. This first CD reissue of Nakadai allows today's listeners to hear prototypical Smith—music composed when his present style was in its nascent state. In addition to the original five Nakadai tracks, this release includes two "bonus" tracks: 2008's evocative Ghosts on the Windows and 1991's Joaquin Murphey, a tribute to the pedal steel elgend of the same name. (Bar code: 8 0041 30025 2 5)

"Chas Smith . . . musician, composer, engineer, metal craftsman and inventor is a classic American original." —New Times (Los Angeles)

"With Smith's music, the sounds are as compelling as his concepts and instruments." —The Wire

"Chas Smith's pedal steel and 12 string dobro are as evocative and quintessentially American as a crackling neon light outside a desert motel at sunset." —Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

“‘A solitary genius,’ as Susan Alcorn describes him, Chas follows no particular school of composition but his own.” —Paris Transatlantic

CHAS SMITH Nikko Wolverine (CB0003)

Chas Smith, a maverick composer in the spirit of Harry Partch, creates much of his music from instruments of his own design and own tuning. Smith is also a much-in-demand pedal steel guitar player. On this CD, the first two pieces, the beautiful Nikko Wolverine and the texturally dense Tons Tons Macoutes, explore the often electronic/music-concrete-sounding world of his bowed and struck metal instruments. The last two pieces, the leisurely paced, inviting Genus, Sho-Bud and the hymn-like Near the Divide, feature the composer on pedal steel guitar. (Bar code: 8 00413 00032 7)

"Meditative alien soundscapes where time comes to a halt ... a beautiful aural experience ... Definitely recommended." —All-Music Guide

"... really nice sounds here, and the resulting musical constructions are quite beautiful." —Fanfare

"Ethereal and atmospheric ... truculent and aggressive" — Dean Suzuki

VARIOUS [see below] Adams/Cox/Fink/Fox (CB0009)

Quiet, sometimes lyric, sometimes pensive music: John Luther Adams' Dark Wind, for bass clarinet (Marty Walker), vibraphone, marimba, and piano, joined with music for clarinet/bass clarinet and string quartet by Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink, and Jim Fox. (Bar code: 8 00413 00092 1)

"In turns beautiful, expressive, contemplative and haunting. Recommended." —Incursion Music Review

"Warm dronic music that shimmers in sensuality. ... delicate music." —21st-Century Music magazine

"The performances are about as ego-free as one can find, and they seem indivisible from the compositions themselves." —Fanfare

"A rarefied atmosphere and great subtlety in the interweaving of the structure." —Il Manifesto (Italy)

"A seamless collection of quiet, ruminative chamber pieces. ... with Walker’s warm and very human tone taking the part of guide and companion. In the best Cold Blue tradition there is plenty of room for the listener here." —Dusted magazine

VARIOUS [see below] Cold Blue (CB0008)

An essential anthology of music by Eugene Bowen, Harold Budd, Michael Byron, Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink, Jim Fox, Peter Garland, John Kuhlman, Daniel Lentz, Ingram Marshall, Read Miller, Chas Smith, and James Tenney—with a new, "bonus" track by David Mahler. From player piano to soloing bullroarer to solo celesta, from wine glasses to pedal steel guitar accompanied by a choir of banjos to relatively traditional instrumentions, this anthology has something to for almost everyone. Its incautious eclecticism is one of the reason's for its long-resonating popularity. (Bar code: 8 00413 00082 2)

"Recommended." —All-Music Guide

"An anthology with many voices, distinct yet united under the label's vision of presenting some of the most innovative and accomplished new music coming out of the American west coast." —Incursion Music Review

"This reissue is cause for celebration for the famished record scavengers who've been hunting it down since it disappeared." —Signal to Noise

"Throughout, the music communicates the excitement of the new, the fresh, the experimental: most of the pieces convey a sense of delight and wonder in the sheer creative freedom of their approach to sound." —Int'l Record Review

VARIOUS [see below] The Complete 10-Inch Series from Cold Blue (CB0014) 3-CD Set

The CD reissue of the noted series of seven 10-inch vinyl eps that Cold Blue released in the early 1980s. Extraordinary music from composers Peter Garland, Rick Cox, Barney Childs, Read Miller, Michael Jon Fink, Daniel Lentz, and Chas Smith. Music for violins and percussion, electric guitar, electronic keyboards with voices, solo and duo pianos, cello, pedal steel guitar, wind instruments of pre-Columbian design, readers, and more. A Gramophone magazine "Critics' Choice" for 2004 (Bar code: 8 00413 00142 3)

"Cold Blue's 'ism'-skirting discs .... a whole wonderful world of new sounds." —John Schaefer, Producer of WNYC's New Sounds

"So mesmerized I can hardly quit listening to it." —Kyle Gann, Arts Journal

"Decidedly cool—in hipness quotient and emotional temperament. Beguiling..." —Josef Woodard, Santa Barbara Independent

"The sounds are spare, wistful, innocent and soft-spoken, often beautiful in a way no other music is." —Arved Ashby, Gramophone

"... defines a certain ‘Southern California sound." —L.A. Weekly

"Highly recommended" —Sequenza 21

VARIOUS [see below] Dancing on Water (CB0005)

New music virtuoso Marty Walker performs music for clarinet and bass clarinet by composers Daniel Lentz, Peter Garland, Jim Fox, Michael Jon Fink, Rick Cox, and Michael Byron. Performing with Walker are noted new music champions William Winant, Wadada Leo Smith, Bryan Pezzone, Amy Knoles, David Johnson, and Susan Allan. The music runs the gamut from a lush work for ten pianos and ten clarinets to a technically thorny solo and includes just about everything in between. Although the individual pieces are on their surfaces quite different from one another, they share a certain commonality—an embrace of music's inherent sensuality. Critics have described Walker’s playing as "masterful," "flawless," and "true artistry." (Bar code: 8 00413 00052 5)

"... think Satie and Morton Feldman, and you come close to the overall mood ... the thinking-listener's slow lane." —Michael Barone, Minnesota Public Radio

"... each piece carries a quiet charm that immediately draws in the listener's attention. ... If, like me, you have a soft spot for the clarinet's melancholy, you won't want to miss this disc, shimmering like light "dancing on water." —Incursion Music Review

"The playing and the recording quality are sparkling." —21st Century Music