Review: Cory Allen – The Great Order and Pearls
Musicians: Cory Allen: Piano, Mike Vernusky: Bowed Classical Guitar, Nick Hennies: Bowed and Struck Vibraphone, Brent Fariss: Double Bass, Henna Chou: Cello
The Great Order: A: Movement I: 17:53; B: Movement II: 15:38
I enjoy listening to the Quiet Design podcasts with Cory Allen and Mike Vernusky (available free through iTunes). They discuss observations on art, the world around, how music affects them and their sources of inspiration as well as the musicians and artists they interview, to date: Lawrence English, Simon Scott, Duane Pitre, Taylor Deupree, Sun Hammer, Wide Sky and others. The topics are wide-ranging, often very entertaining and thought provoking. I also appreciate the reflective consideration that Cory Allen brings to the development of his work, and to his experimentation with instrumentation (extant and invented).
From the first sedate piano note of The Great Order, to the almost shy conversation between guitar, vibraphone, cello, and double bass, there is a respectful and somber discipline, a regimen to this largo in two movements. It is evident that there is a prescribed yet restrained foundation to this all-acoustic instrumental work. This is an album about relationships and exploration: the musicians to their instruments, the instruments with each other and how the sounds sustain and resonate both in the recording and ultimately in the listening space (or headphones) and the ears of the listener. No one instrument dominates, and it’s as much about the spaces between the music as it is about the sound. The first movement is somewhat hushed, and the second movement has a slightly increased density of statement-response and layering among the instruments. This is an album that also cleanses the mind and encourages contemplation. The recording has a clarity and live presence that feels as if one is sitting in the room with the musicians, making it all the more intimate.
The album art and design are by Cory Allen, who has done an impeccable job with the entire package (the covers printed by Stumptown Printers in Portland, Oregon). The limited edition LP is pressed in translucent clear vinyl. Also, in conjunction with the release of The Great Order, Cory Allen has issued an LP version of his serene, beautiful and introspective album Pearls (from late 2010). The first 100 copies of Pearls are pressed in white vinyl and 400 copies in black vinyl. For a limited time, both LPs can be purchased at a special price from the Quiet Design website. I’m also looking forward to Cory Allen’s ongoing experiments with his recently created multi-stringed instrument (a sound sample is below).
Pearls: A: Strange Birds, Lost Energizer 17:09; B: Isozaki Clouds, Blue Eyes 18:52