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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JEFF GREINKE: Before Sunrise (2018)

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

I enjoyed the acoustic/electronic and New Age aspect of this album

1 High Flyers on the Night Sky 9:45 2 Slow Train on an Open Plain 7:06 3 Night Watch 6:10 4 The River 5:31 5 Under Falling Stars 4:50 6 Mountains and Clouds 5:45 7 Rain, then Snow 6:11 8 Before Sunrise 11:59 Spotted Peccary | SPM-3701

(CD 57:20) (VF) (Dark Ambient, New Age)

It's the 1st time that I put some music of Jeff Greinke, and nevertheless I know the name, between my ears. Associated strongly with the New Age and with the said dark ambient music, Jeff Greinke nevertheless played an important role in the emergence of the American electronic ambient music in the middle of the 80's. BEFORE SUNRISE is also a first opus of the Texan musician on the Spotted Peccary label, two of his previous albums (Virga and Winter Light) appeared however on Lotuspike which was bought in 2008 by Spotted Peccary. And as each album from this American label is meticulously done by Ben Cox and Howard Givens, one has to expect to a fascinating rendezvous with an EM which surfs more on the axes of the New Age, but in a more progressive vision. Except that here, Jeff Greinke borrows another avenue by offering musical panoramas where the dark shadows of the synths' textures and of his vast range of samplings are coupled with acoustic instruments, such as trumpets, saxophone, French horn, viola, violin, cello and piano. And this union gives a musical texture which is reflected in the steel blue of an artwork which expresses frankly the vision of BEFORE SUNRISE. And the adventure begins with High Flyers on the Night Sky which gets develop in a nocturnal atmosphere with a concerto of locusts which makes raise a synthesized mist perfumed of the morning dews. Tears of piano fall on this veil of lines of which the contrasts hum a slightly shrill ambient ode which welcomes the warmth of the wind instruments. This acoustic ensemble gives some nice reflections to the synth layers and to their gleaming colors. The violin also stretches its tears, adding more Sino-American texture to this title which evolves with a good emotional intensity worthy of a film music. This violin is more present in Slow Train on an Open Plain which is a suite of the opening track. Its pace is a little slower, a little like a mortuary procession where the sorrow is translated by the violin lamentations. Still here, the wind instruments dominate the ambient waves of a synth while, pensive, the piano is a little more melodious. Night Watch shows all of Jeff Greinke's skill to build a dark soundscape. A muffled humming escapes from its introduction, lifting hoarse breezes, as carillons' tinklings, which are prisoners of a static storm. The River proposes a more joyful structure. A more livened up one with delicate jerky riffs which dance with this kind of light Jazz like those on the New Orleans streets. Clarions and synth layers cover this rhythmic a bit spasmodic, one would say at times a kind of spiritual trance, while the addition of the violin and the piano bring into opposition a nostalgic gloom.

Under Falling Stars starts with a thick cloud of violin which descends from heavens with the pinched chords of another violin. This effect of cascade is amplified by a piano, structuring a very good musical canon which is more melodious, in particular thanks to the tinklings of carillon, than grave and austere. A good and very musical title which turns to a light rhythm in its 2nd half. But in the end of the day, this is a nice music piece which is as much polished up than tied up with a catchy and exhilarating musical cacophony which always stays rather near of a fascinating cohesion. Mountains and Clouds is a title of dark vibes with samplings of acoustic instruments which float on a tray of sibylline sound shadows. The winds roar and moo with a coldness in the tones which gives an icy aspect to the slow tonal evolution of this title. Beautiful and disturbing at the same time, I quite liked this storm which hides behind a piano sometimes furious and sometimes dreamy of Rain, then Snow. A sublime layer of ghostly voice rocks both visions split into a single approach of a piano which reminds me of George Winston. The long title-track reflects the first 7 chapters of BEFORE SUNRISE with a slow approach where the already present melancholic flavors abound with the same set of acoustic instruments as in High Flyers one tea Night Sky. The viola is striking of emotion and of sadness while the piano drops its drops of tenderness in this linear movement where Jeff Greinke's dark winds gobble up in the end an introduction which gives its guaranteed shivers to a soul in distress.

Shivers that also can be count by tens in the 58 minutes of this Jeff Greinke's last album. I'm not saying that I'm a fan of Dark ambient music with an edge of New Age here! But I did enjoy this journey in the territories of a dark meditative music where the acoustic instruments complete, otherwise dominate, the usual electronic panoramas of the kind. There are surprising moments in this album which remind me a little of Erik Wollo because of this cold vision which gets hide in the evolutions of the longer titles. In the end; I would have never thought of liking it. But that turned out to be the very opposite! Sylvain Lupari (May 7th, 2018) ***½** Available on Spotted Peccary

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