AMN Reviews: Grego Applegate Edwards – Travels in Tyme [Ruby Flower Records 09]

Grego Applegate Edwards is well-known to rock, jazz, classical and avant-garde music listeners as a very active music blogger given to tastes at once catholic and discerning. But he is also a musician and composer in his own right, having studied with master drummers Elvin Jones and Barry Altschul and composer Arpad Szabo at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, among others. As might be expected, the music on this release draws on a variety of influences and inspirations, most notably the sounds of rock instrumentation, the rhythmic complexity of jazz, and the compositional methods of modern new music. Principally, though, Travels in Tyme is, as its title advertises, about time as embodied in music.

All of the tracks on the disc feature dense textures made up of threads of different lengths. Edwards often will take a line or phrase—such as the three-figure ascending phrase that forms the core of Kelly Green, or the convoluted chromatic melody in Blue Pegleg—and overlay it with multiple, tonally-related phrases of varying durations. The phrases play out, diverging and converging at different multiples of their cycles, making for an often unpredictable array of accents over a sometimes steady, sometimes variable pulse. Melodies don’t function as lead or background voices so much as they take on the role of dividing time into longer or shorter overlapping periods. Throughout the release there’s an echo of the practice, pioneered by Ives and explored at Darmstadt, of using multiple orchestras playing with, against, and through each other simultaneously. Edwards obtains a remarkably rich palette of timbres by multitracking a large number of guitars, percussion and keyboards—and even voice, on Kelly Green (Circles and Shadows)–all of which he plays himself. The resulting planes of sound create a marked sense of depth expanding beneath the resonant, multi-hued surface.

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