I'm listening to this now (thanks to Jeff for sending me a copy). Long time list members know that I, unlike many, am a huge fan of fairly recent Greinke releases, such as Virga and Winter Light, which some found to be too "soft" and nothing at all like his past, more abstract albums, such as Places of Motility, Lost Terrain, etc. I loved the melancholic, soundscape, cinematic elements of both Virga and Winter Light, both which reminded me of Mychael Danna's work, such as skys as well as of Tim Story's The Perfect Flaw. Anyway, this new one has Jeff working with a LOT of acoustic instrument accompanists: French horn, percussion, drums, trumpet, clarinet, viola, violin, trombone, cello, guitar, bass, etc. Jeff plays "all other instrumentation, sounds and rhythms." Some of the music has a strong chamber music aesthetic to it, and may elicit a somber/melancholic mood, but not always. "Valley and Ridge" is propelled by a cheery series of bell tones, percussive effects, and sweet string melodies with what I would characterize as a subtle Asian undertone. Based on the (gorgeous) photos contained in the accompanying booklet, I think the title of the CD indicates what the CD is about...music meant to accompany the images as one rides the train...particularly across a rural landscape in what appears to be the farm belt of the US (but I'm just speculating here). "The Milky Way" features forlorn trumpet set against an undercurrent of a rhythmic repeating texture (meant, I guess, to simulate the sound of a train on the tracks) before its mid-section morphs into a more free-form jazz meets quasi-experimental neo-classical semi-dissonance, reemerging into a more structured repeat of the first half. OTOH, "Haboob" is closer to post-rock. Searing guitars, raucous rhythms on trap kit drums and other devices, a subdued sensation of restrained chaos permeates the cut. and And I am now writing a review, which I only intended on giving a snapshop so I'll just close by saying that this may be Jeff's most ambitious album to date...it cannot be easily summed up (I wish myself luck on writing this review), and needs to be slowly digested, especially with how diverse it is at times.
My caveat is if you are fond of his early more traditionally ambient/dark ambient work and don't enjoy his recent stuff or his more non-ambient work and also if you don't enjoy acoustic instruments carrying the bulk of the load, you should listen to sound clips first. Myself, while I am still getting used to this, I know I like it just because I can "hear Jeff Greinke in it" and that's enough for me.