Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Ron Thomas / John Swana / Joe Mullen: Elysium

462

Ron Thomas / John Swana / Joe Mullen: Elysium

By

Sign in to view read count
Ron Thomas / John Swana / Joe Mullen: Elysium
The sound of Elysium is, in a word, otherworldly. Then throw in the electro-industrial tinge and cold liquid submersion resonance—like the noise of a high tech blacksmith shop on a distant planet with a dense atmosphere and heavier than Earth gravity like Neptune—music of an alien culture, or songs played for cryogenically suspended astronauts slumbering their way across vast expanses of space.

Such are the sounds created by keyboardist Ron Thomas, trumpeter John Swana and drummer Joe Mullen.

Thomas, in acoustic piano outings, is a man of a supple touch with self-proclaimed "deep technical and pragmatic musical ideas" that result in very beautiful and approachable music on discs like House of Counted Days (Vectordisk, 2003), Music in Three Parts (Art of Life, 2006) and Doloroso (Art of Life, 2006). But Thomas and band mate Swana are no strangers to plugging in, with Cycles (Vectordisk, 2007) featuring the same players, same instruments and same sound, but with more of a focus this time around. Pianist Thomas is heard here on synthesizers. Swana uses an EVI, an electronic valve instrument, while Mullen is on acoustic drums that somehow echo with an eerie reverb. With Swana and Thomas, it's hard to tell who is doing what—in an approach that is similar to that of Miles Davis' On the Corner (Columbia Records, 1972), pared down and minus the funk and groove.

Elysium consists of three extended pieces, the titles of which are variants on poem titles from the Tang Dynasty period of Chinese poetry. Whether there is any connection between said poems and the music is anyone's guess. What is certain is that Thomas and company are exploring new ambient territory, and creating an oddly mesmerizing sound.

Track Listing

Winter's Deep; The Wanderer; Emerald Walls.

Personnel

Ron Thomas: keyboards and synthesizers; John Swana: EVI synthesizers; Joe Mullen: percussion.

Album information

Title: Elysium | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Vectordisk


Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Heartland Radio
Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows
Invisible
Maurizio Minardi
Solidarity
Zach Rich

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.