Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

12

Chris Schlarb: Making The Saint

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Having spent four years cutting and pasting fifty trusted musicians on his stunning debut solo recording, Twilight & Ghost Stories (Asthmatic Kitty Records, 2007) guitarist/composer Chris Schlarb may understandably have felt like scaling back. Instead, Schlarb invested similar time and resources to sculpt the beautifully meditative folk-jazz ambient suite Psychic Temple (Sounds Are Active/Asthmatic Kitty Records, 2011) and the outsized pool of backing musicians was on hand again for Psychic Temple II (Asthmatic Kitty Records, 2013) with its Frank Zappa and Joe Jackson covers nestling among more familiar Schlarb soundscapes. Finally, a decade later, Schlarb reins in his orchestral ambitions with a one-man solo album.

Perhaps as a reaction to the painstakingly constructed mosaics of his previous solo albums, Schlarb has gone all hermit-like, taking a couple of guitars and some electronics and ensconcing himself in a log cabin in Big Bear, California. Given the four years required to get Twilight & Ghost Stories in the can and the thousand recording hours that went into Psychic Temple, three days recording Making the Saint seems veritably slap-dash by comparison. The results, however, are quietly sublime. Sparse in construction and achingly lyrical, the forty-odd minutes of music are among the most meditative that Schlarb has yet produced.

The title track, which takes up half the CD, pitches Schlarb's ruminative electric guitar over a constant, slightly wavy drone. Shimmering chords, repeated motifs and gently unfolding melodic improvisations interconnect like sonic sketches. The simple yet powerful aesthetic is akin to some of the reflective, drone-based material on Between Them a Forest Grew, Trackless and Quiet (Sounds Are Active, 2007) and Interoceans (Asthmatic Kitty Records, 2008), Schlarb's compelling collaborations with drummer Tom Steck in the duo I Heart Lung. Subtly anthemic and almost hymnal at times, this nineteen-minute epic is the CD's outstanding track.

On the confessional-sounding vocal track "The Great Receiver" Schlarb layers softly pulsing acoustic strands and faint vocal harmonies. His brief interjection on electric guitar is a delight. The CD's second extended track, "The Fear of Death is the Birth of God" is based around a repetitive electric guitar motif and spacious chords. Guitar and electronics fuse harmonically either side of sustained melodic lines. As the piece unravels, electronic Morse and, sparkling guitar notes join the meditative chorus. In the end, the layers recede leaving just the electronic pulse. An exquisite rendition of the jazz standard "My Foolish Heart"—just Schlarb on acoustic guitar—concludes the album on an intimate note. A whole album of similar acoustic reverie wouldn't go amiss.

Making The Saint is a fine addition to an impressive and distinctive discography. Though shorn of the dozens of overlapping voices that have hitherto shaped his solo work, this is still a quintessential Schlarb recording—meditative, lyrical and seductive. If a log cabin in the San Bernardino mountains produces such results then Schlarb should do this sort of retreat more often.

Track Listing: Making The Saint; The Great Receiver; The Fear of Death is the Birth of God; My Foolish Heart.

Personnel: Chris Schlarb: acoustic and electric guitars, electronics, voice.

Title: Making The Saint | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Lavaman CD/LP/Track Review Lavaman
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32 CD/LP/Track Review Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32
by Don Phipps
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Black Diamond" CD/LP/Track Review Black Diamond
by Joe Gatto
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Morph" CD/LP/Track Review Morph
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 2, 2017
Read "I Speilvendthet" CD/LP/Track Review I Speilvendthet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Unit[e]" CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!