In medieval times the alchemists were a mysterious combination of scientist and sorcerer. But it was all to serve one purpose, to transform common elements into gold. Do you think Jon Durant looks a bit smug in that picture? I'll tell you why. It's because he figured out how to do it!
Besides his own music, Alchemy records features the incredible talent of violinist Caryn Lin, Gary Willis (Tribal Tech and Allan Holdsworth), Robby Aceto (well known to fans of Davids Sylvian and Torn as well as Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri & Mick Karn, Italian diva Alice and the band Red Letter), Wayne Krantz & Leni Stern (Wayne having played with Billy Cobham, Michael Brecker and Steely Dan, Leni with a lengthy solo career as a well known jazz guitarist, named best female jazz guitarist by the Gibson Guitar Company) and Brian Gingrich. There's another artistic force at work here worth mentioning and that's David Torn. Although David doesn't have a release on Alchemy (yet), his spirit is all over these albums as friendly guide, producer and/or performer.
Colin Edwin & Jon Durant/Burnt Belief ....CD $14.99
Burnt Belief is a progressive instrumental collaboration between bass player Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree, Metallic Taste of Blood, Ex-Wise Heads) and guitarist/composer Jon Durant. Additional musicians include Jerry Leake ("Cubist," Natraj, Club d'Elf) on percussion and Geoff Leigh (Ex-Wise Heads, Henry Cow, Hatfield and the North) on flute. Blending electronic rhythms and acoustic elements, the musicians wove soundscapes from unique sources - synth, 12-string and cloud guitar textures, melodic fretless bass, prepared piano and Middle Eastern hand percussion - along with searing lead guitars, to tell a series of instrumental stories. Burnt Belief takes the listener on an immersive journey, with repeated listens revealing new layers and tones to the depth of the subject. While the album is intended to be a complete experience, the centerpiece comes with the dual attack of "Balthazar's Key" and "Uncoiled," just over 20 minutes of compelling sounds that, according to Durant, "kick enough booty to make anyone sit up and take notice." The title of the album was inspired by Edwin's reading of social psychologist Leon Festinger's When Prophecy Fails, an account of a doomsday UFO cult in the 1950s. According to Edwin, "It got me thinking, what are all beliefs really about and where do they come from?" - a question that Durant had also been interested in for some time.
Jon Durant/Dance of the Shadow Planets ....CD $14.99
An international collaboration featuring Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree. Like all of Durant's work, "Dance of the Shadow Planets" defies categorization. Part concept album, part freeform exploration, it's a mesmerizing mix of ambient soundscapes and melodic storytelling. Durant's compositions integrate elements of jazz, progressive rock, new age and minimalism, creating rich texture and a wholly unique space. Compared to the likes of Robert Fripp, Eno, David Torn and Steve Hackett, his playful approach builds layer upon layer of multiple guitars and effects for a signature style that's all his own. This time around he's joined by Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, electric violin virtuoso Caryn Lin, and worldfusion percussion expert Jerry Leake of Natraj and Club D'Elf. "Dance of the Shadow Planets" is a line borrowed from Shalimar the Clown, Salman Rushdie's epic novel set in Kashmir. The shadow planets represent love and hate, and the dance is their interplay within us all, and their influence over our actions on a daily basis. These themes are woven throughout the nine tracks of this recording, exploring passion, tension, chaos and magic. "The book was definitely resonating with me throughout the entire writing process," explains Durant, who composed the entire work in a flood of inspiration that took just three weeks.
Jon Durant/The Flood ....CD $14.99
Jon Durant, Tony Levin & Vinny Sabatino. Another new CD, another set of challenges. This time a whole new set of textures result from the use of 12 string guitars replacing the tuned percussives. Vinny's back to playing hand drums on this record, whereas it was all kit on the last one. Tony's here on stick, upright, and 5 string bass, and Jon's playing fretless on a couple of tunes. There's an interesting flow to the record, alternating between heavier rhythmic bits and more ambient things. And in spots it's a fair bit heavier than anything Jon's done to date. There's also something he's never done on record before, which is a cover song. (A solo guitar version of Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes the Flood")
Jon Durant/Things Behind the Sun ....CD $14.99
JD's 5th, and most extraordinary, recording brings yet another shift in his musical vision. While maintaining many of the "minimalist" elements of "Brief Light," the tuned percussion ostinatas, and multiple interlocking guitar parts, "Things Behind The Sun" offers a much jazzier element than any of his CDs since "Three if by Air." "Things Behind The Sun" is his most guitaristic recording to date, offering glimpses of chordal work never before heard on JDs records. In many pieces the customary cloud guitars have been replaced with layered voicings across intricate chord progressions that bring to mind such diverse influences as Eberhard Weber and Allan Holdsworth. While he is accompanied by his usual mates Tony Levin and Vinny Sabatino, this time around they're put in a different context: Vinny's playing straight ahead drum kit, with heavy reliance on colorful cymbal work, and Tony's exclusively playing his electric upright bass. On the haunting closing track, "They Left By The Water," JD's cloud textures are complimented by Joe Cunningham on the Bulgarian Frula (a recorder-like instrument).
Kingsley Durant/Away from the Water ....CD $14.99
Kingsley Durant has been playing acoustic and electric guitars since 1967. He moved to the Seacoast area in 1998, prior to which he lived and performed in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Ohio. He currently balances his time between solo acoustic performances, jazz (he is a regular contributor to the Press Room's Tuesday night jam, and has appeared with various local jazz musicians), and a rock band, the Number Two Pencils. His debut CD for Alchemy Records, Away from the Water, draws from all of these elements, but half of the pieces on the CD are solo acoustic guitar, and all of the pieces are built up from a base of acoustic guitar. His major influences on guitar have typically been players who also fuse multiple elements and styles of music into their playing, such as Steve Howe, Michael Hedges, Pat Metheny, and Eric Johnson. Aside from guitarists, his musical outlook has been affected by such disparate influences as his grandfather (a church organist and carilloneur); Miles Davis and all the great musicians that have played in Davis' bands; and, not least, the Rolling Stones. The CD features Nashville's Viktor Krauss (Bill Frisell, Lyle Lovett, etc.) on upright bass, Vinny Sabatino on percussion and brother Jon Durant on cloud guitar and production.
Jon Durant/Brief Light ....CD $14.99
Brief Light is the most ambitious and fulfilling of Durant's four CD's as a leader. Inspired heavily by minimalist compositional concepts, Brief Light explores the possibilities of Durant's cloud guitar loops and textures alongside ethno-percussive grooves in concurrence with tightly entwined rhythmic motifs. The result is an engaging blend of musical idioms and arresting guitar work. And some stellar percussion (Vinny Sabatino), bass (Tony Levin) and piano work (Michael Whalen) as well. On Brief Light, Durant has composed a set of musics which might be best described as soundtracks for an imaginary film. The music effortlessly blends minimalism, jazz fusion, progressive rock and ambient textures. This innovative cross-fertilization of musical stylings makes Durant's compositions impossible to categorize yet eminently enjoyable.
Jon Durant/Anatomy of a Wish ....CD $14.99
Anatomy of a Wish is the third, and most evolved of Durant's CDs as a leader. Building on the foundations begun with Silent Extinction Beyond the Zero, Durant has climbed to new levels of compositional and improvisational creativity. Working more closely with his percussion counterpart, Vinny Sabatino, JD created a series of spaces which are at times breathtakingly beautiful, darkly disturbing, and visually arresting. The percussive work was the result of many hours spent exploring the sonic possibilities of a wide range of percussive instruments, and building complex rhythm tracks by layering these instruments together. Durant's guitar playing continues to play a dominant role, exploring sonic realms that few guitarists have trekked before. Further aided by master bassists Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment, and many many others) and Michael Manring, Durant has created an innovative soundscape that is unlike any other music on the planet. The music on Anatomy of a Wish straddles jazz, new age, progressive rock, and ambient without ever firmly landing in one spot. This cross fertilization leads to confusion when trying to label the music, but is the hook that grabs the listeners' attention and takes them along for a mesmerizing trip.
William Camire/Fourteen Years ....CD $14.99
Fourteen Years is not easily categorized. It evokes rich, ambient soundscapes, delicate soliloquies, meditations and cinematic landscapes. All of which lend to the experience of immersing oneself in the music; for example the deep harmonic structures of the title track, the dancing polyrhythms of Patchouli, the lush textures of Monument Beach or the events inside a storm of From a Distant Shore. Camire's eloquent sense of synthesis, percussion and sonic manipulations is accompanied by Jon Durant's signature cloud guitars and striking timbres. The evocative violin of Caryn Lin graces two tracks, and her solo track, The Girl Who Makes You Cry Is Always Love, is a story in and of itself.
Jeff Richman/Sand Dance ....CD $14.99
Guitarist/composer Jeff Richman has previously recorded six solo albums where he was joined by such players as Vinny Coliauta, Steve Smith, Alex Acuna, Abe Laboriel, Gary Willis, Steve Lukather, John Abercrombie and Ernie Watts to name a few. Sand Dance is his first with Alchemy Records and features his working band, Joel Taylor on drums, Dean Taba on bass and Judd Miller on electric valve instrument. Sand Dance is a more open and improvisational record than Jeff's previous releases. The band took the more open material and generated a remarkably seamless ensemble vision which allowed for spirited interplay and dynamic variety. The compositions are exceptional, notably the scinitllating title track to the thoughtful Ashes to Ashes and aggressive swing of Stink Eye. The album carries a cohesive structure which eloquently blends the improvisation and composition and allows the considerable talents of the players to shine.
Jon Durant/Silent Extinction Beyond the Zero ....CD $14.99
What, exactly, are the rules regarding making an album? How does one make a peaceful coexistence between funky, slamming, fierce groove oriented pieces; and dynamic, shifting, drifting ambient pieces? On "Silent extinction Beyond The Zero" Jon Durant answers the above questions by borrowing a phrase from The Firesign Theatre: Everything You Know Is Wrong! Silent Extinction Beyond The Zero is soundtrack music for the mind. Close your eyes and let your ears tell you a story.
Robby Aceto/Code ....CD $14.99
"Robby Aceto creates that rarest of birds, atmospheric music with an edge. On his debut album, 'Code,' guitars scream and swirl over liquid loops, funky rhythms and ethnic percussion, bringing to mind the work of textural titan David Torn" ~ Guitar Player Magazine (Sept. '96)
Jon Durant/Three If By Air ....CD $14.99
"In the liner notes to his debut, Durant thanks his heroes - David Torn, Robert Fripp, Allan Holdsworth, Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, etc. - preparing you for the delicate but disturbed instrumental passages that await within. This Boston-area guitarist weaves dark, gossamer chords (with heavy processing) to create textures reminiscent of the '70's fusion sound created on the noted ECM label. In similar fashion, 'Three If By Air' is elegantly twisted stuff." ~ Pete Prown, Guitar Shop Magazine.
Wayne Krantz & Leni Stern/Separate Cages ....CD $14.99
The stunning new duet album featuring Wayne Krantz and Leni Stern. Two pre-eminent guitarists from the New York jazz scene have teamed up for this intimate set, showcasing their remarkable skills as players and composers. Wayne's harmonic and rhythmic innovations blend seamlessly with Leni's unique gift for melody and soul. 'Separate Cages' will satisfy any appetite for unique and extraordinary music.
Brian Gingrich/The White Rim of Heaven ....CD $14.99
'The White Rim of Heaven' is Brian Gingrich's fourth release as a leader and his Alchemy Records debut. This powerful new record takes the listener on an extended journey through a wide landscape of musics. From stark and beautiful to dark and disturbing, these instrumental pieces consistently engage the listener's attention. As on his previous releases, Gingrich relies on a wide range of musical influences from a variety of cultures. His expansive compositions are cinematic in scope and feel with electronic timbres colliding with ethnic musics in a shared atmospheric vision. The result is a completely unique sense of time and space. Aided this time by the guitar mayhem of David Torn, the percussive attack of Eric Batterman and Leo Murphy, and some textural guitaristics from Dean Jensen, 'The White Rim of Heaven' is a spellbinding journey.
Alchemy Records certainly hosts some incredible musicians. And as great musicians, they've certainly been around and have left their marks on others' recordings. Any fan of these musicians will also want to check out our Text Catalog for some of the following:
CMP Records ~ Scott Henderson ~ Allan Holdsworth ~ Steve Jansen & Richard Barbieri ~ Mick Karn ~ Wayne Krantz ~ LoLo Records ~ Medium Productions ~ Steely Dan ~ Leni Stern ~ Mike Stern ~ David Sylvian ~ David Torn
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