V/A ~ Winter Kept Us Warm…

Adagio for the BlueKraków’s excellent Preserved Sound label has just unveiled a free winter compilation, which includes tracks from five 2016 albums plus a quartet of winners from the past year.  It’s a great way to catch up with the label while whetting the appetite for more.

Three of the tracks were originally released in early 2015, but these selections ~ from K. Novotny, Western Skies Motel and Adrian Lane ~ still sound fresh.  The newest comes from Trigg & Gusset‘s lovely and languid Adagio for the Blue, which is as relaxing as modern jazz can be.  In addition to the album’s matching cover, the music exudes blue ~ the blue of melancholy, of fading skies, of falling twilight.  With the Fender Rhodes, bass clarinet, trumpet and tenor sax, “Rhododendron” creates a mood of mystery akin to that of film noir.

ImperfectAnother of the selections is only a week old.  Vitaly Beskrovny‘s Imperfect may revel in imperfection, but imperfection does not mean mistake.  Instead, the album comes across as a live recording, piano-centric yet enhanced by a cello and glockenspiel.  With titles ranging from “Confusion” and “Worry” to “Joy” and “Trust”, the tracks operate as a soundtrack of moods.  “Joy” is the track on the compilation, unusually sedate in light of its title, calm and reassuring, more like peace.  “Trust” is happier, but the entire set exudes serenity.

The other new tracks include Tess Said So‘s “Be”, a quiet instrumental duet that makes us interested in the mood of the impending follow-up to 2014’s I Did That Tomorrow.  The best title is “The Sound of Water Falling Over Rocks”, ironic as no field recordings are included; instead, Visionary Hours calls on the imagination to fill the gaps.  in “Twenty-seven”, Belarus’ Alex Tsurko offers a meditative string piece that transforms halfway through; a video for “Twenty-six” provides a further glimpse of the composer’s talents.  But the compilation’s finest track is its first.

Lorenzo Masotto‘s Rule and Case is due out in February, and “Chromo” is a highlight of an album filled with highlights.  With string quartet, synth, sax, piano and drums, Masotto creates the sense of a much larger orchestra.  The dynamic contrast on “Polyphonic Dreams” is brilliant, and the closing sax of “Rainbow” transformative, but the rest of the world will have to wait to hear it.  Suffice it to say that Preserved Sound is destined to go from strength to strength in 2016, and Winter Kept Us Warm… is its declarative statement.  (Richard Allen)

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