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Compassionizer - An Ambassador in Bonds CD (album) cover





4.19 | 46 ratings

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4 stars Ivan Rozmainsky is back with his new band, Compassionizer. Their 2020 release, Caress of Compassion, received a lot of respect (as do most of Ivan's projects). "Ambient RIO"? Are they going for the John Zorn look?

1. "Follow After Meekness" (8:15) an unusual collection of themes and sounds--as if we're being led through a fun house or house of mirrors at an amusement park. (13.25/15)

2. "Different Sides of Ascension" (3:54) almost like a traditional Christmas song being offered for year-round/every day use--and perhaps played by UNIVERS ZERO. (8.75/10)

3. "Caress of Compassion (Part 4)" (3:35) pretty but perhaps a little too bare and under-developed/unrefined. (8.25/10)

4. "The Man That Sitteth Not in the Seat of the Scornful" (3:34) cutesy and yet slightly unnerving. (8/10)

5. "An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 1)" (5:00) This is the first song in which the "John Zorn" alarm went off. To be sure, it's soundtracky and "unsettling dream"-like. I'm not sure I can appreciate it much less like it: it's so personal/subjective. This ambassador must be a hedge fund operator. (8/10)

6. "An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 2)" (3:05) UZed comes to mind during this whole-band synchronized chord production. It is, surprisingly, engaging and certainly very interesting. This ambassador is a realist--and a team player. (9/10)

7. "I Am Sitting on the Pier" (3:12) a bit of an Asian flavor to this one: a pier in Hong Kong? The shift at the one minute mark is cool--as is the one 30 seconds later and again at 2:45. My favorite song on the album. (9.25/10)

8. "Hard-Won Humility" (7:17) the opening two minutes of this song remind me of Eric Satie, but then there is a cinematic shift in instrumentation and pace--a drive that reminds me of a motorized gondola in the canals of Venice. At 3:35 another shift takes us on land--in a Gator ATV! into the jungles alongside the Nile River Valley! At 5:10 every thing stops, we get off, and we look around at the spacious star-filled night sky (thanks to piano and clarinet). Interesting journey! Very cinematic. (13.25/15)

9. "An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 3)" (4:10) harpsichord! plus clarinets and electronic keyboard MIDI flutes and tuned percussives. The harpsichord is quickly lost (or abandonned) (too bad: I love harpsichord), replaced by clarinets and all electronic sounds/noises (bells, buzzes, sounds meant, I think, to imitate animal noises). Definitely the ambassador to some Banana Republic. (8.5/10)

10. "Bear Ye One Another's Burdens" (13:20) establishes a rather engaging melodic structure--over jungle rhythms-- despite the pitch-bending nature of many of the sounds. At 3:27 we open a door into a totally different section of the jungle: with a banjo and chain-saw-like electric guitar! (It's the Texas bayou!) At 5:40 slowly picked zither notes run solo until an eerie synth-wash chord takes over at 6:15--all by itself. At 6:55 a heavily-reverbed electric guitar arpeggio and strummed chord announce the labyrinthine entry into yet another section: Laurie Anderson's Blue Lagoon! A trumpet at 9:50 announces the emergence of a royal procession--riding on lumbering elephants! Another entertaining and cinematically evocative musical journey. Like any dream, some parts are surreal, absurd, and/or beautiful and, thus, memorable, while some parts are banal and forgettable. (26.5/30)

Total Time 55:22

I can see where the "avant garde ambient" description came from. Nothing here is too fast, dissonant, or muddled to be straight avant, and the music is generally low-key and slow, yet there is often a slightly unsettling melodic line or odd combination of instrumental sounds. My usual issues with Ivan Rozmainsky releases are not so present here (i.e. sound engineering choices, qualitative inconsistencies in the levels of both composition and performance), though the typical scatteredness in stylistic musical choices could be said to be here--are what, perhaps, give the compositions their dream-like cinematic qualities.

B/four stars; an interesting musical listening experience that I would recommend to others--with the precautionary warning that one should probably give it your full attention for at least the first listen as there are instances and events that might prove jarring or even alarming if one were not braced in the safety of a chair or tub.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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