Glen Whitehead: Pale Blue
(May 19, 2023 / Neuma Records)
Musician (trumpet, electronics) and composer Glen Whitehead carries a microphone on his outdoor adventures, and if he can, his trumpet too. He finds the musical structures that come naturally to a specific place, and brings them to life.
That's the impetus of Pale Blue, an image that refers to our world.
Recorded natural sounds and trumpet are brought together, with sound processing that adds another dimension. The recordings come from his wanderings in Colorado, France, Greece, Hawaii, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey, and Wyoming. That includes the rushing headwaters of the Rio Grande, coyotes and cicadas, or the ambient sounds from a rooftop in Istanbul.
Pale Blue, the title track, uses a jazzy trumpet line to contrast a bed of electronic and natural sounds. It's the kind of formula that sound gimmicky, until you hear it done this well.
With a spacious mix of abstract trumpet, squiggly electronic lines and white noise, blended with natural sounds, Dawn of the Din evokes big spaces - the smallness of self subsumed in the sonic panorama of life. It's effectively atmospheric.
In M(aias)aura, the trumpet becomes one of several melodic threads - the rest mostly carried by animal calls. The natural harmonies and dissonances rise and fall against the pattern of a running creek.
Each track offers a different mood. For Wilderness of Mirrors, he's joined by Mert Gunal on the ney, a type of Turkish flute. Dr. Colin McAllister plays electric and classical guitar on Pila del Ángel, adding new textures to the mix.
It makes for interesting listening.