Artist: James Freeman
Title: Echoes of Nature
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: The Orchard Rate
Rated: 4 Stars
James Freeman’s “Echoes of Nature” is a curious juxtaposition of synthesis and nature. Pre-listen, my thinking was that – though adventurous – the bulk of the material would be far too labored to have significant merit. The idea of 1s, 0s, and that which is inorganic blended with field recordings of nature (crickets, ocean waves, etc.) further coupled with organic/acoustic instrument improvisation seemed contrived. It still does. But somehow it works, literally filling either a room or your ears with echoes of natural musicality that still somehow derives itself from mathematically-shifting modality.
The extended violin and viola soloing of Mad Tolling and Yehudit are out-front but also well-integrated, as-is the flute and piccolo of Nika Rejto on the applicable ‘Sunrise Birds’. All of the solos work contextually most of the time, and even when they sound like they might be getting in the way or otherwise too dominant, a temporary reprieve -but hardly a resolution – is almost breath-like as my brain gets ready for the next one.
Hard to pick a favorite, but I enjoyed the very long (39:48) ‘Morning Waves’ the most; it proved to be a dexterous workout for my headphones and my brain. Freeman’s slow moving low-end synth swells married with high-end fast arpeggios and scale runs contrast the ocean waves in a spectacular way that is hypnotic. I had the pleasure of listening to “Echoes of Nature” first thing in the early AM, and it was quite rewarding. Musically fulfilling in-the-moment, and somehow continuing to be functional post-listen as I felt a sense of calmness afterward.