Azure Miles Records ~ the Music of Michael Robinson

Tendrils by Michael Robinson (Azure Miles Records)

Listening to Pink Moon, the first compositions on Tendrils one is immediately struck by the unusual timbral juxtaposition of the piano sounds and the tanpura drone. Then, one notices that the unusual skipping melodic line fragments and at times repeated gestures seem to derive more from Western contemporary music, or from jazz. These are juxtaposed with various unusual Eastern scales and tunings. Somehow,it all fits in the musical tapestry that Michael Robinson weaves. At a certain point, the percussion instruments, from India and other lands, intensify, as the piano melodies grow less tonal, presenting, as a result, a wild, alive moment.

The sonorities in The Drowning of Time are resonant and striking. Six minutes into the work, the pointalistic, rapidly repeated notes and other rhythmic sounds take flight with glissandi and various surprises.

Angular sitar melodies atop a vigorous tabla percussion base characterize Cloven by Voices.

Perhaps the most remarkable composition in this recording is of the title composition, Tendrils. Periodic downward spiraling bell figures mark segments of this work. A resonant wind sonority is heard soloing vigorously in an Eastern scale, yet articulated in an angular jazz-inflected post-bebop style, reminiscent of Josef Zawinul. One thinks that the piece is winding down at the fifteen minute mark, only to discover that the percussion beat will change and spark the mix, as 'Tendrils' continues in a new manner for the closing fifteen minute section, ending with a flourish of activity and energy.

- CDeMUSIC 1996