A Unique Blend of Zen Guitar Wizardry
Travis Wade Evans | Atlanta, GA | 06/17/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Steve has embarked on an imaginary journey of beautifully crafted and gorgeously quiet musical passages. The strength of this recording lies on the fact that the sounds he creates become his own through an extensive recording process involving a multi-layering of multiple short musical sketches. Marc Anderson's percussion gives the music some gentle treatment and an overall eclectic quality.
The choice of instruments were key in maintaining the musics' natural form. As Steve plays guitar you can here natural human sounds fused with the music thus making "Natural Causes" an appropriate title. Steve's choice of acoustic piano is something new in his array of recordings as it perfectly compliments the other instruments he plays on the recording: acoustic guitar, kalimba, and bouzouki. Marc plays the steel drums, gongs, and percussion.
The recording is also the first since "Northern Song" to be primarily acoustic and feature only Steve and Marc. Whatever direction they choose whether acoustic or electric, Steve and Marc maintain one of the strongest musical cadences known to mankind.
I'm really enjoying "Natural Causes".
An Easy Five Stars!"
John R. Mckanna | 06/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I believe Steve had hurt his hand before making his last record, A Man About a Horse, which still managed to fit into his ouvre quite well, if maybe a bit tentative compared to Safe Journey or Exploded View. I see a number of reviewers listing his music as 'Zen', (and who cares if a burp is a guffaw? if Mahayana differs from Theraveda etc....), I think he's coming more from a direct contemplation of emptiness as something integral to sculpting sound to its highest level of pure being. That rings clarion here with the acoustic instruments-only armory, we get a lot of sweet strokes of the chisel, brush and finger-on-the-ceramics wheel.
I don't know, but this recording captures a distillation of what I think he's always aimed for, super-nicely too, if that works grammatically.
The percussion by Marc Anderson is apt and harmonious, even timeless; reminds me of Statius guiding Dante through purgatory.