Meditations in Jazz, the first digital recording (released in July) and tangible record (currently a pre-order for 2LP) on Arius Blaze’s own Folktek Records, is likely to generate growing chatter as a serious entry into looped minimalism and sound sculpting. But like any aural structure, Meditations requires time and processing. It isn’t a heavy study, requiring pre-requisite signatures from bearded professors, but it will demand a deep listen.
“Part 1” sets Mediations in motions with an amalgam of wind, moisture, and clattering of factory metal and furnace startups. At a demanding 22 minutes, “Part 1” mysteriously erects into your whereabouts. The release of steam and fizzled loops trip and spill over erratic blips and struck keys. Moments shift from tense cinematic shrieks to dusty fade outs of fog-filled, permeating drones.
“Part 2” softens the clattering but haunts deeper. The suspenceful cymbals hint at change or something around the bend. Energy moves slowly through this assumed industrial wasteland while orchestral snippets, distant played brass, and opaque melodies intersect as the song nears an end.
“Part 3” is birthed in heavy drone, fluxing from transparent to immensely impenetrable. Urban landscapes honk and transmit like traffic in a late night manner. Odors plume above the sewer grates and the characters are flustered and unrecognizable. “Part 3” reshapes the meditative architecture Blaze opens Meditations with and replaces the smoke and construction with touches of freeform lines, heights, and improbable weights. The space is suggestive of freedom and inner control, however the soundscapes are gently restrictive, giving “Part 4” the role of converging prior drones and ambient loops with melodic imprints. Horns call out, interrupting the lurking presence and spontaneously grow into a much larger entity. “Part 4” coils the sounds, stark textures, and environment found on Parts 1-3. The winding is filmic and plays like an unsolvable crime as it toots and flubs into an unsettling end.
The cold, deserted feel on Meditations in Jazz never completely exits; sounds barely warm, yet resolve comes from the interconnectedness of all parts. Like staring deep into the lines carved out on the cover art, Meditations in Jazz offers a way in and a way out.