CD: Lawrence Blatt, The Color of Sunshine
Label: LMB Music
Release date: 2009
Produced by William Ackerman at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont
A Sweet Shimmering Spectrum of Acoustic Guitar Invention
?It is interesting that a musical scale consists of seven notes ascending in wave frequency and the light spectrum consists of seven colors also ascending in light frequency.?
Lawrence Blatt, liner notes, The Color of Sunshine
On a foggy day guitarist Lawrence Blatt was hiking around the wetlands near his home. Had he been simply a microbiologist, and not a microbiologist and an independent musician and composer, his experience might have been markedly different.
Blatt, having discovered the range of effects of both music and colour on emotion, had recently decided to focus on each colour in the spectrum and write a composition for it. He carried what was initially a very cerebral journey into his daily experiences, and as a result mundane events opened up to illuminate the manifold meanings and forms of colour.
Such consonance between creative life and outward reality is one of the great blessings of the artist’s journey. And it was how the captivating ?Gray Salt Marsh? was conceived.
In addition to having an independent music career, Blatt works as a microbiologist and has long maintained a fascination with mathematics and natural history. He embarks on his musical projects almost as if he were conducting research experiments, beginning with a hypothesis, setting up a controlled environment, and stepping back to watch what happens.
None of this is lost on the listener. Without being able to fully grasp what was in Lawrence’s brain when he composed ?Infrared: The Abyss,? the fact that the piece is named ?Infrared: The Abyss? adds a dimension to the listening experience, a short, self-made movie you can run in your head to ground and enhance the abstraction of these lovely tones, chords, and rhythms.
At a time when many acoustic fingerpickers are gluing on fake fingernails to brighten their tones, Lawrence Blatt plucks the strings with the pads of his fingers, resulting in a sound that is not only bright and clear but sensitive, and, in his words, ?organic.?
In addition to guitar and the occasional vocal, Blatt plays at least a dozen instruments on this album. He also uses alternative tunings on his guitars and other instruments.
Blatt has been blessed to rub elbows with some very influential musicians, including Dave Wilcox, Ottmar Liebert, and Leo Kottke. Grammy winner and Windham Hill Records founder William Ackerman’s influence on this album was a godsend. As beautiful as Blatt’s previous self?produced albums are, you really get the feeling with this one that there was a harmonious partnership behind it that brought it above the aesthetic standard of its predecessors.
A genre that emerged as a syncretism of many other genres, New Age music is a not only a bit of a misnomer (what, if anything, does Windham Hill have to do with The Celestine Prophecies?) it has received some criticism for being too refined, too escapist, too introspective, too intellectual; a kind of muzak for deep thinkers. But if you’ve followed this column and understand its purpose, you’ll agree with me that the music we choose to feed our artistic selves should have less to do with critical approval than with the actual purpose of the music in the artistic journey.
How might an artist use Lawrence Blatt’s music? In my humble opinion, this is almost the only type of music to listen to when feeling broken and wounded and needing something to get you back to feeling good about life again, music that will give you the strength to remain in the moment. It’s easy to listen to while still being intellectually challenging when You’re ready for that. It’s music that doesn’t intrude or condemn, only blesses, inspires, and heals.
The Color of Sunshine manifests five of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it makes me want to be a better artist; 3) it gives me tools which help me be a better artist; 4) it inspires an awareness of the sanctity of creation; and 5) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour.
The Bard could use some help scouting out new material. If you discover any books, compact disks, or movies which came out in the last twelve months and which you think fit the Bard’s criteria, please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. If I agree with your recommendation, I’ll thank you online.