John Etheridge and Park Chum, Vimla Rowe move Out Of The Sky

16th June 2016

Title: Out of the Sky

Label: Dyad

You know, if I’m ever out, walking in the park, I have to confess that I’ve never yet met anyone during my stint and struck up an immediate conversation drawing upon music and philosophy. John Etheridge, ex-Soft Machine man and one of the best guitarists currently active in the world, has. That’s how he met Rowe.

The two are the principle and for much of this album, the only performers on this nine-track disc.

Mixing a selection of songs created by one or both of the performers and from other songwriters, the songs here are generally low key and performed with a sense of ease, combining a jazz-centric world music frame. The low tempo allows Rowe to deliberate with her choice of emphasis on each word of each song while the trippy, tuneful, often rolling guitar style from Etheridge provides an often dreamy, sometimes complex backing to her expressive and sometimes powerful delivery.

In sonic terms, there is compression that has squeezed the dynamics a tad which, for a a CD full of fusion jazz vibes, is a tad frustrating. This is a CD that really didn’t need it. Yet, put this CD on after a reasonably balanced album and you will be reducing the volumes by a fair few notches to find a similar volume. Yes, the compression pushes Rowe’s intimate and textural vocals right up close to your ear and you get to hear every nuance of the Etheridge guitar but that’s what my volume control is for, I’d like a choice in the matter and, finally, I can find more subtle details if I’m in control of the volume thank you very much.

Nevertheless, the compression doesn’t ruin the album, it just irritates and the strength of the music is such that it remains dominant, which is a relief.