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Dominic Miller: Silent Light

Geno Thackara By

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Dominic Miller is a guitarist you've undoubtedly heard somewhere or other, whether you've knowingly heard of him or not. A life circling the globe (from Argentina to England and currently France) has let him absorb folk, Baroque and Latin American sensibilities, among other things, which leads to collaborations with similarly eclectic names. His widest exposure has been with numerous tours alongside Sting, who's happy to offer some poetic words of praise in the liners here alongside Paul Simon. Miller's ECM label debut offers a pleasant spin through some colorful tones of the places his travels have taken him.

The album starts off building a slow circular pattern, hinting at something middle-Eastern with a sinuous minor key and light hand percussion chiming along in the background. The soft earthy touches set a leisurely pace at which the rest of the recording sparsely unwinds—the plucking of nylon strings brings out Spanish or classical shadings throughout, and the mostly-solo format makes sure the music always has space to echo and breathe. The mysterious vibe manages to stay subtly alluring for the most part, even if a couple spots drift toward what you might call easy-listening territory (mainly with a peaceful new-agey take on Mr. Sumner's staple "Fields of Gold").

Close friend Miles Bould plays his background role using the aural equivalent of pale watercolors: a little pattering of shaker in "Water," for instance, or light cymbal splashes through the coasting groove of "En Passant." They both step it up with the skittering "Chaos Theory," which overdubs the pair playing with jaunty staggered timings and still effortlessly keeping in step. It makes the disc's liveliest moment while disrupting the contemplative vibe not at all.

Silent Light is a recording as peaceful and evocative as its title suggests: exotic motifs convey moods from several continents, chord structures can be left ambiguous or implied rather than stated, and extra sounds are sprinkled around with a light touch only where they're judged to add something. Dominic Miller's quiet travelogue is one that finds its most successful moments in giving hints as much as in showing or telling.

Track Listing: What You Didn't Say; Urban Waltz; Water; Baden; En Passant; Angel; Chaos Theory; Fields of Gold; Tisane; Valium; Le Pont.

Personnel: Dominic Miller: guitar, electric bass; Miles Bould: percussion, drums.

Title: Silent Light | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: ECM Records


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