JEFF GREINKE: Other Weather (2021)
Updated: Mar 16
“This got to be one of the most beautiful albums of meditative music drawn from the shade of a majestic piano”
1 A Stretch of Sun 4:35
2 Rain Through the Night 4:00
3 Falling Sky 5:19
4 Rising Cumulus 4:27
5 Snow Across a Windswept Plain 9:05
6 Clouds Like Flying Saucers 4:19
7 Outflow 4:38
8 Storm Chaser 5:41
9 After the Rain 3:49
10 Icebreaker 7:26
11 Across the Sky 5:41
(CD 59:06) (VF)
(Acoustic blends Prog. New Age)
Jeff Greinke is an American artist drawn to the progressive side of New Age. A bit like Robert Rich, he likes to build his own layers of sounds. Layers of sounds that mix electronics and acoustics in a musical universe where everything we hear can be confusing. Since apart from these layers which have captured the essences of both string and woodwind instruments, Before Sunrise is a fine example, Greinke invites musicians too to deepen his musical textures in crucial moments of this album. Attracted by meteorological phenomena of unparalleled beauty, and sometimes just indescribable, the American musician goes there of 11 thoughts about weather. Its beauties as well as its traps and its dangers which are linked to the increasingly hazardous atmospheric conditions, when not murderous. OTHER WEATHER is a very nice album, mainly acoustic, with the rhythmic fingers of Greinke over the piano.
A Stretch of Sun is a meditative structure perched on a piano marked by nostalgia. Evasive, the main melody makes vibrate our thread of melancholy, while another line adds a sibylline veil to this fascinating duel where the emotions of Jeff Greinke are shared on these competing lines which interweave through the color of a thread of crying emotions like those plaintive lines of synths and/or guitars. The piano is totally divine with those notes of pearl ringing louder than the small ones living in the dark that attract and overwhelm us at the same time. Rain Through the Night displays the same emotion on a rather similar melodic pattern but with a delay effect in the supporting notes of the piano. The melody, like the essence, display more liveliness in the hands of Greinke who will stick later the prismatic effects of the violin and the cello, injecting a dose of melancholy which easily finds its way through the music. If we like the dimension of this title, that of Outflow will also seduce you even if slightly more electronic. The quavering of a gloomy synth wave curls up in my ears at the opening of Falling Sky. Coming from afar, it drags to make itself heard like a string that a bow hurts with too much weight and not enough space. Moreover, a kind of distortion and tonal malformation comes from these ambiences, making the music as much gray as its title. If the piano persists in weaving its charming shadows, the texture which envelops it still exudes that ambience of drama and perdition which often accompanies these melancholic hymns. Rising Cumulus also puts in profile these piano lines which intersect in the meshes of this album's moods. This time, the air is playful with a movement of the piano which makes its notes run and leap on its initial austere procession. Slowly growing in a crescendo form, the music twists between its piano lines and those of a synth with the aromas of a violin whose neck is too short to feed the drama behind Rising Cumulus.
Intense, Snow Across a Windswept Plain is a dark ambient title. It's a sometimes cacophonous and discordant symphony quite adequate to denounce the real dangers of climate change on our species. This musical denouncing combat is mainly guided by the multiple and possible contrasts in the colors of the synth lines whose electronic vision bickers over the ambient textures of acoustic and wind instruments. Heather Bentley plays cello, viola, along with Alex Guy, and violin with Paris Hurley, while Greg Campbell is on French horn and small percussions. Very good! Clouds Like Flying Saucers is another aubade played on the piano. We feel a good double bass accompanies the music when suddenly the universe is turned upside down by notes which collapse at the same time as fingers stumble, as much on the piano as on the acoustic guitar and the bass. This fleeting and unexplained cacophony as the musicality quietly plays as if nothing had happened. With its duel piano and acoustic guitar under a sky weighed down by spectral waves and lines of synths in the colors of late afternoon lights, Storm Chaser is certainly one of the most beautiful tracks on this album. More centered on its piano lines crossing this main line from which the piano draws a weak rhythmic glow, After the Rain remains as beautiful, although as disordered as this hair in the rain that we drip while shaking our heads. The electronic side is very abstract on these two titles being more focused on the decor plan of the ambiences. Icebreaker is a track as slow and tearful as Snow Across a Windswept Plain. A wave and its shadow rise from afar with a dramatic vision linked to the woosshh and the violin/cello's licks. The winds are making the bells sound whereas a panoply of wind instruments, one speaks of layers of cello, viola and violin played by Heather Bentley, the French horn played by Greg Campbell and the flutes and clarinets played by James DeJoie, are travelling with synth lines created like the main element of decoration and support. A big title with a dark cinematic vision. Very strong throughout OTHER WEATHER, the piano is the most touching musical element of the 11 episodes soundscapes in this 4th album of Jeff Greinke on Spotted Peccary. And it's with it on Across the Sky that this adventure ends. This divine piano, playing on emotions to give shivers like those to make the soul cry, makes its notes resonate in a dark setting. The intertwined lines sometimes remain entangled in a setting whose survival depends on the accuracy of the synth lines. And this, as much here as elsewhere in the album. Rebel as tender, this piano knows the right range of its nuances which crumble in the shadow of another emerging line. Ending so on a very musical note one of the beautiful albums of meditative music drawn from the shade of a majestic piano.
Sylvain Lupari (March 15th, 2021) *****
Available at Spotted Peccary