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David Cross: Crossing the Tracks

Glenn Astarita By

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Track review of "White Bird"

Violinist extraordinaire David Cross made a significant impression during his early 1970s tenure with King Crimson, performing on three seminal albums: Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Island, 1973), Starless and Bible Black (Island, 1974) and Red (Island, 1974). Other than some gaps, Cross has been active via his David Cross Band that has issued several albums, in addition to his numerous collaborations with a diverse mix of ensembles, and his 2018 pairing with ex-Van Der Graff Generator saxophonist David Jackson on Another Day (Cross & Jackson Music, 2018).

This release equates to a 360-degree turnaround for the violinist as he iterates that, "producer Jurgen Engler presented me with 12 tracks and gave me free reign to play on all of them, hence "crossing the tracks.'' He goes on to say, "However the lure of artistic freedom and a new musical challenge was too strong to resist." Other than guest vocalists appearing on select tracks, no other personnel information is listed on the CD jacket. So, we can assume the producer employed session musicians, electronics, and world music performers, as Cross added the strings to these harmonically appealing pieces that project a combo East-West modality.

Many of these largely tuneful works are arranged with East Indian undercurrents, world grooves and a supple wall of sound behind Cross' resonating and wonderfully recorded performances. Hence, the opening piece "White Bird" is a gorgeous remake of the 1969 hit by the versatile San Francisco rock band, It's A Beautiful Day. Here, vocalist Sonja Kraushofer (L'Ame Immortelle) sings the alluring theme that integrates an exotic aura into this classic psyche-pop ballad, shaded with sitar voicings and Cross' streaming and overlapping lines. Notions of inhabiting a far-away land, infused with spiritual attributes or a place where phantasmagorical dreams are fabricated are in full force on this hummable song.

Indeed, "White Bird" is one of the finest tracks on an album that at times, instills a touch of listening fatigue due to the uniformity of these soundscape designs. But it's a compelling session that instills joy, and a surplus of mood-altering milieus, enchanted by Cross' weaving notes, sanguine treatments, melancholic inflections and towering staccato passages.

Track Listing: David Cross: violin; Jurgen Engler: keys, programming; Sonja Kraushofer: vocals (1), Anne-Marie Hurst: vocals (3), Ofra Haza: vocals (5, 11); Kimerly Freeman: vocals (7); Marion Küchenmeister: vocals (9); Eva O: vocals (12).

Personnel: White Bird; Kalahari Fantasy; For What It’s Worth; Prince of Darkness; Love Me; Into the Oblique; The Light Inside Me; Shifting Sands; Hero of Kingdom; Hallelujah; The Key; Shadows Do Know.

Title: Crossing the Tracks | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Cleopatra Records

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