Cold Blue Two is an eclectic anthology of 14 new, previously unrecorded works—many of them written specifically for this CD—by a diverse collection of composers whose personal musical visions usually blend intuition with process. The composers include both the well-known and the not-so-well-known, most with longtime associations with Cold Blue, and two making their first appearance on the label: John Luther Adams, Gavin Bryars, Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink, Jim Fox, Peter Garland, Daniel Lentz, Ingram Marshall, Read Miller, Larry Polansky, David Rosenboom, Phillip Schroeder, Chas Smith, and James Tenney.
Sometimes stark, sometimes lush, this is music in which subtle emotions lurk just below cool surfaces. Among the tracks are dramatic pieces, drifting pieces, and pieces that simply defy easy categorization. From a dozen cellos to a solo just-intonation National steel guitar, from a Harry Partch diamond marimba with strings to a solo accordion, from music featuring celesta or hammered dulcimer or densely layered tracks of steel guitar and Hammond organ or classical guitar with electronics to string quartets, solo piano, and a variety of small chamber ensembles, this collection contains something to surprise (and delight) just about everyone.
Like most of the music on this West Coast label, this album’s pieces tend to focus on the various aspects of music’s inherent sensuality, which some critics have suggested is a uniting aesthetic interest among the composers whose work appears on the label.
Among the featured performers are many renowned new-music champions, including Sarah Cahill, Guy Klucevsek, John Schneider, ETHEL, the Formalist Quartet, Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, and a host of other fine players, including a number of the composers themselves.
“As they did with their first anthology in the mid-1980s, the good people at Cold Blue have created an expansive sonic landscape populated with darkly lyrical, evocative works. The composers, many of them returning from that long ago first volume, are a gifted and varied lot, but they share the Cold Blue esthetic: Whether plaintive, hypnotic, or enigmatic, this is music that is cool but not unemotional—and always a rich, twilit blue.” —John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s New Sounds radio show
“This record pretty much kicks ass—an alluring, arresting document from a brilliant cast of contemporary composers.” —Glenn Kotche, composer and drummer for Wilco