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CD/LP/Track Review

Gurus: Cosmic Wonders

By Published: August 1, 2001
Gurus, as you might imagine, profess great wisdom about the spheres of the universe, particularly those about the Milky Way. Tom Gender, who leads the group on this date, plays the melodica. He's joined by Rob Swaggart, a fellow melodicist. These two players have collaborated on a number of interesting discs on Epiphany Records, including the most recent Electron Density, a hauntingly fine release. Most of their latest, Cosmic Wonders (the "Passages" series) consists of delicate, toneless breathing noises... eerie subterranean communication at an inhuman transcendental level. The liner notes which accompany the disc explain the ideas behind Gender's compositional mastery. The pieces evolve as the two players try to tie knots with their toes, while they read The Guruverse and react to certain passages of particular interest with subtle changes in breathing.

The last tune on Cosmic Wonders shows a whole nother side to the duo. Gender holds a vicious C for ten minutes, and Swaggart sticks to a softer F#. The degree of multitonality expressed in "Flicker" encompasses far more than the simple "devil's interval." Using extended techniques, the pair actually engage in a peculiar call-and-response with heavy blues overtones. It's an incredible display of virtuosity that any melodica player would love to hear. While the first four tracks on Cosmic Wonders certainly convey a patient degree of lyricism, the last one burns the house down. Let's hope we can hear another Gurus records some time soon.


Track Listing: First Passage, Second Passage, Third Passage, Fourth Passage, Flicker.

Personnel: Tom Gender: composer, melodica; Rob Swaggart: melodica

Record Label: Epiphany Records

Style: Modern Jazz



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