308

Chris Schlarb: Twilight and Ghost Stories

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Schlarb: Twilight and Ghost Stories
Inspiration comes in many guises. In the case of guitarist/producer Chris Schlarb, a rainstorm triggered a synapse in his brain, unlocking a creative process leading to Twilight and Ghost Stories. That is the simplified version of events. Schlarb's first solo album is, ironically, the fruit of contributions from fifty artists. Each forwarded segments of music or field recordings of varying lengths, which Schlarb shaped painstakingly over a period of four years. The result is a fascinating collage of sounds.



Piano, tuba, vibraphone, guitar, bass and clarinet merge with djembe, claribone, bells, broken mandolin, and radiators and sliding chairs recorded in a house built by architect Albert Speers in Iceland.



It begins with rain, the sound of intermittent passing cars swishing by like small waves breaking on a nighttime shore., while clusters of echoing piano notes drop sympathetically as though from the sky. An acoustic guitar, soft bells, a gently rumbling bass and isolated drum rolls build and then recede quietly.



This symphony of sounds builds and ebbs in movements, of which there are nine or ten discernible parts, linked by the ever-present rain. A faint Parisian accordion waltzes briefly and gaily before vanishing; clapping and singing voices likewise. A dissonant tuba and bowed bass threaten to disturb the peace but soon expire.



Then, a steadily intensifying washing cymbal rises like an apparition, introducing and buoying an ethereal piano segment in one of the album's most sublime moments. And all the while, the rain.



In a moment of stillness, saxophone awakens and piano stirs, a beautiful, soulful voice reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald unfurls, backed by sweet acoustic guitar. Here, a guitar sounds like a little musical box; there, a hummable melody is underpinned by electronic drone. Pedal steel guitar and acoustic guitar, with the rain all to themselves, provide another moment of beauty in an exchange evocative of guitarist Jimmy Page.



Most of the interventions are brief, yet run into each other so smoothly that there is a tremendous sense of continuity and logic. Vibraphone give way to piano and laughing children, which sounds like a distant childhood memory. A bassoon bellows like a ghost ship in the fog. And all the while, the rain.



At the end, a narrated tale, dark and slightly surreal, which wouldn't be out of place in a Charles Bukowski short story. This leads into a lively drum and dreamy guitar sequence, typical of Schlarb's collaboration with drummer Tom Steck on the wonderful I, Heart Lung album Between Them a Forest grew, Trackless and Quiet. (Soundsareactive, 2007) A soothing, vocal harmonization and Robert Fripp-like guitar close things out, accompanied of course, by the sound of the rain.



No doubt a lot of sweat and a few tears went into the creating of this work; four years is a long time to spend piecing together a sonic jigsaw which has no guiding picture other than that evolving in the fertile imagination of Chris Schlarb. It has been worth it though, for this is improvised music as art at its very best.

Track Listing

Twighlight and Ghost Stories.

Personnel

Tom Abbs: upright bass, tuba, drums; Accident: music box, electronics; Glenn Bach: field recordings; Brother Mitya: acoustic guitar, voice; Bill Brown: vibraphone; Justice Constantine: drums; Abdoulye Diallo: acoustic guitar, electronics; Drekka: acoustic guitar, electronics; Dave Easley: pedal steel guitar; Sandy Ewen, electric guitar; Nathaniel Frank: drums; Adam Garcia: drums; Orlando Greenhill: upright bass, voice; Liz Janes: voice; Lynn Johnston: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Michael Kaufmann: violin, claribone, broken mandolin, voice; Walter Kitundu: radiators and sliding chairs; Sebastian Kreuger: piano, acoustic guitar, bass, voice; Languis: synthesizer, electronics; Dave Longstreth: voice; Adriana Lucero-Schlarb: voice, electronics; John O

Album information

Title: Twilight and Ghost Stories | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read A Walk in the Park
A Walk in the Park
Jerry Cook Quartet +
Read New Aurora
New Aurora
Michael Sarian
Read Unnavigable Tributaries
Unnavigable Tributaries
Vicente / Brice / Sanders
Read How To turn the Moon
How To turn the Moon
Angelica Sanchez & Marilyn Crispell
Read The Path
The Path
Chien Chien Lu
Read Golden Daffodil
Golden Daffodil
Leslie Beukelman
Read Message from Groove and GW
Message from Groove and GW
The Radam Schwartz Organ Big Band
Read Duos & Trios
Duos & Trios
Armaroli - Schiaffini - Sjostrom

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.