Adam Berenson's Assemblages (Dream Play Records, 2021), a trio outing with bassist Scott Barnum and drummer Bob Moses, was the pianist/composer's return to an acoustic piano trio setting. But Berenson is a restless pioneer who plants a flag and moves on to new territory. Never far from his collection of electronics and synthesizers, he found a commanding tool for expression in his Sequential Prophet XL, a powerful seventy-six key sampler/synthesizer. On Homages and Worlds, Berenson pays tribute to a wide array of influences.
On this solo album, Berenson employs a half and dozen synthesizers and workstations that, in combination, and with overdubs, generate an inimitable voice. Opening with the classically influenced "A Spectral Field in the Early Evening (Homage to Eberhard Weber and Lyle Mays)" Berenson orchestrates a lush, but forsaken soundscape. There is little about the chosen instruments that would suggest circuits and signals at the heart of the music. "Napoleon's Return from Egypt" has a more electronic feel but is nuanced. Carla Bley's "Vashkar," also recorded by Berenson's mentor Paul Bley, is beautifully interpreted in this eleven-minute rendition. Berenson explains that he was fascinated by a Prophet XL piano sample patch called "Fractal Piano" and saw fit to use it for the Bley piece.
While some of these pieces blur the line between acoustic and electronic aesthetics, there are several that fall solidly into the latter category. "Deus ex machina (a cautionary tale) homage to Brian Eno" and "Prince Rupert's Lament: Robert Fripp & Peter Sinfield (homage to King Crimson)" are more tech-heavy, the source of the sounds less distinct. This is heard, in particular, on "The Dimension of Truth" and "The fabric of our society (homage to Genesis)" where the latter captures the ambiance of that group's important art-rock era.
Homages and Worlds brings together Berenson's varied influences, perhaps more than any of his previous recordings. It is often genre-less, as is appropriate for an artist that has not been beholding to a category. For listeners of a similar mindset, this is a thoroughly enjoyable collection.
A spectral ﬁeld in the early evening (homage to Eberhard Weber and Lyle Mays); Napoleon's return from Egypt; Registration of births, deaths, and marriages; Vashkar homage to Carla and Paul Bley; Deus ex machina (a cautionary tale) homage to Brian Eno; An Empty Signiﬁer (Identity Crisis); National Security Action Memorandum; Temporary Insanity (to know her is to hate her); The Dimension of Truth; The fabric of our society (homage to Genesis); Deus Absconditus; Prince Rupert's Lament: Robert Fripp & Peter Sinﬁeld (homage to King Crimson).