All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

462

Ron Thomas / John Swana / Joe Mullen: Elysium

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
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.

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Duo

Duo

Vectordisc Records
2016

buy
Impatience

Impatience

Vectordisc Records
2015

buy
Two Lonely People

Two Lonely People

Vectordisc Records
2011

buy
Galaxy

Galaxy

Vectordisc Records
2009

buy
Elysium

Elysium

Vectordisk
2009

buy
Blues for Zarathustra

Blues for Zarathustra

Art of Life Records
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read The Berlin Concert CD/LP/Track Review
The Berlin Concert
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 18, 2018
Read IMA IMA CD/LP/Track Review
IMA IMA
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Breathe CD/LP/Track Review
Breathe
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Good Music CD/LP/Track Review
Good Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Stillness & Sirens CD/LP/Track Review
Stillness & Sirens
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Harlem" CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "The Study of Touch" CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Meerkat Parade" CD/LP/Track Review Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "Signs" CD/LP/Track Review Signs
by Doug Collette
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Food Foragers" CD/LP/Track Review Food Foragers
by Don Phipps
Published: March 13, 2018