Alchemy 2020

Across The Evening

Between Boston and Riisipere, two kindred spirits and their coterie embark on a penumbral trip with a one-way ticket stuck to guitar cases.

American Jon Durant and Estonian Robert Jürjendal have been admiring each other’s oeuvre for quite a time, yet it took them some courage to find and share common ground, because either of these two masters of strings seemed to feel most comfortable in a personal shell. Sure, both performers recorded with fellow musicians in experimental settings, but not with those who inhabit the same niche, and creative competition clearly encouraged them to shine. Together, Robert and Jon produced a uniquely quiet kind of luminescence – hence the title of their first joint work, aided and abetted by friends – which dictated the tone and structure of the entire album.

Here’s why “Early Evening Colors” is floating into view with the soft, if simultaneously solemn and muscular, shimmer of fretless instruments – Durant’s guitar and Colin Edwin’s bass – but, before the twilight calm descends on the ethereal “Distance Groove” where shadows of raga lurk and rhythm patterns excuse themselves out of existence, the splashes of Jürjendal’s electric licks and Andi Pupato’s sympathetic percussion, give it an organ-oiled, delightful momentum. Here’s an arcanum of sorts that’s bound to entrance the listener once the album’s often exotic perspective has been fully opened in “Beguiling Eyes” to display a multitude of layers, each a melodic mystery – painted in chamber, mariachi, prog and other deceptively incongruous colors yet blending into a strangely logical whole.

While “Leading Indicator” is bent on slowly releasing amplified charge from the sparse ripples the players send into atmosphere, Jon’s 12-string strum and Robert’s acoustic lace embrace trumpet-delivered glory in the tender glow of “Reflective Sea” whose nuanced spirituality tends to be abstract without ever losing its grip on a tune and, thus, concealing the piece’s epic scope. Elsewhere, though, “Mirage” comes on as a surprisingly palpable number, fired by riffs and supple weave of the Eastern-flavored lines, and the rather nebulous “On The Water” offers a fluid interface for further reflection on life’s passing ways.

And then there’s a couple concert cuts, “Return To Russia” and “Balkan Blue” – one a simmering, dewdrop-detailed romantic ballad; the other, voiced in Russian by Inna Kovtun, a pulsing plea of a folksy stripe – to bring it to a close and to leave the listener wanting more. “Across The Evening” might be Durant and Jürjendal’s debut as a unit, but they don’t have to stop: there are nights, morning and afternoon waiting for them to get explored and turned into music.


October 14, 2020

Category(s): Reviews
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