Gabriel Saloman ~ Movement Building Vol. 2

Movement Building Vol. 2The second of a planned trilogy, Movement Building Vol. 2 builds on its predecessor and operates as a soundtrack to a tragic winter romance.  The album’s source material is Yasunari Kawabata’s novel Snow Country, although the artist takes time to visit Japanese court music and even Miles Davis’ “My Funny Valentine.”  This is music for those who believe it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Saloman is best known for his work in Yellow Swans, but his solo career has demonstrated the diversity of his interests.  The outstanding feature of his recent work has been percussion, and in this category, the new album swiftly delivers.  Japanese drums launch the set and are never far from the foreground.  Saloman drapes bowed guitars and electronics around these beats like solace to a downcast heart.  “Ear Piercer” is far more tender, presenting not the crushing guitars expected from the title, but high-pitched frequencies that find further development in the plodding yet meditative “Mountain Music.”  This all leads up to the album highlight, the 12-minute “Gagaku”, around which the entire album revolves.

Like its companions on the album, “Gagaku” was commissioned as the score to a modern dance piece.  Yet unlike its companions, the track seems fully formed ~ not a part of a larger work (although in this instance, it becomes one by default), but an entire story told in a single exhalation.  The unrushed build comes across as courtship, including romantic reeds (for infatuation and flirtation) and bashful drums (for anxiety and approach).  As the piece develops, its tentative nature disappears, leading to consummation.  Midway through the piece, the strings capture the attention, twisting knots around Saloman’s guitar until their edges grow frayed.  The sudden ending sets up the album’s coda ~ the aforementioned “My Funny Valentine” ~ as if to intimate that tragedy viewed from afar can still be viewed as romantic inspiration.  Vol. 3 is expected later this year, after which the larger picture will finally become clear.  (Richard Allen)

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