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Murphy, Chris: Luminous

For those who like the slightly rough and raw sounding stretches of Tom Waits or the late Chris Whitley, where the blues has been forcibly taken out back and shaken up and introduced to rock, or experimental, or folk, Luminous may be just the ticket. Murphy has put together a musician's record, calm on the surface but filled with the inflections, gestures and details in phrasing that expose an expert touch to make the experts smile. Unlike the two comparisons made above, Luminous is instrumental and frankly ranges more broadly in style than either Whitley or Waits. The opening tracks are in fact fairly generic, with the supporting instruments playing support and the lead instrument playing lead, without much interplay in between. It's not until we reach the fourth track "Dec 12, 1968", that the atmosphere begins to establish itself, in softer pulsed chords do exchange places with other subtleties. And again, on the sixth piece, "Hyacinth", the vocabulary is broadened again, with an almost Appalachian folksy-ness shimmering through a violin melody easily as beautiful as The Banks of the Sweet Primroses, contemporized with touches of distortion and voicing more familiar to the current ear.

Supported by a number of musical luminaries with credits that range from in fact playing for Tom Waits or with Wilco, the touch remains virtuosic throughout, while the focus remains naggingly soft. Perhaps there is too much obedience to convention here. The few instances in which the pieces depart from the more familiar production and arranging techniques are often the most successful, but these are also and sadly in the minority. As such, Luminous stops short of crossing the line that separates the musically solid from the musically profound. But judging by the skill and technique on display, that situation is likely only a temporary one.

Track Listing
1) Waltz
2) Blules for Bukowski
3) Luminous
4) Dec 12, 1968
5) Night of the Hunter
6) Hyacinth
7) The Return of Queen Jane
8) Sparks from the Wind
9) Farewell My Lovely
10) The Rustling of Flowers
11) The Golden Horde
12) Bear Cubs
13) Gospel Music
14) Skinny Ed
15) Piston
16) Richard Widmark

Added: July 23rd 2007
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 2993
Language: english

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