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Hristo Vitchev: Of Light and Shadows

Tyran Grillo By

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Guitarist Hristo Vitchev reconvenes his synergistic quartet with pianist Jasnam Daya Singh, bassist Dan Robbins and drummer Mike Shannon for a set of nine originals, each deeper than the last. It's the kind of session that happens perhaps once in a decade, where every detail dovetails into the next without the merest hint of force.

The title track is a joyous opener, practicing what it preaches by virtue of its gradations. It exudes passionate musical ideas and exposition. There's something deeply vernacular about this music, entrenched as it is in the emotions it describes. Vitchev is inspired in his soloing, floating across the darkening firmament with blessed assurance. Shannon keeps the canvas from falling with every carefully placed action at the kit. Robbins evokes Eberhard Weber, while Singh lends a distant reach to his soloing.

"The Shortest Wavelength" opens with verdant piano before widening its vista to include the full band. This one has a deeply cinematic charge, working its energies into moving pictures of memory and imagination. Clearly a tune about love and friendship, it finds communion in unexpected places and of touching the very air with creative impulses. Robbins is resolute here, dancing behind closed eyes in a living dream. Vitchev himself elicits forward motion and drama with his smooth evocations, unfolding one melodic flower after another toward a beautiful denouement.

"Selective Absorption" is a melodic highlight for its upbeat wonders, sunlit and welcoming like a lodging one never expected to find on a long trek through the mountains. Singh is exuberant, turning the very climate into a spontaneous musical score. "At Your Side" is a ballad of rounded proportion and is another loving vehicle for Singh, who then welcomes "Prismic Dance" with a dramatic intro. The tune proper shines a light of inspiration on the band, who emote with even deeper commitment to the integrity of every moment into the next. Like "Pentachromatic Butterflies" that follows, it is an internal portrait of nature (if not a portrait of inner nature). Vitchev's solo here is cosmic: the album's zenith. After the gorgeous stops and starts of "A Portrait of a Love Forgotten," "Partial Darkness" ends with a funkier piece of cinema that finds Vitchev ecstatically embodied in a track that shows the band at its most interlocked.

A modern classic worthy of any praise, and the pinnacle of Vitchev's artistry thus far.

Track Listing

Of Light and Shadows; The Shortest Wavelength; Selective Absorption, At Your Side; Prelude to Prismic Dance; Prismic Dance; Pentachromatic Butterflies; A Portrait of a Love Forgotten; Partial Darkness.


Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Jasnam Daya Singh: piano; Dan Robbins: bass; Mike Shannon: drums.

Hristo Vitchev: guitar; Jasnam Daya Singh: piano; Dan Robbins: bass; Mike Shannon: drums.

Album information

Title: Of Light and Shadows | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: First Orbit Sounds


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