Jeff Greinke "Scenes From A Train" CD
The time runs fast, already four years have passed since Jeff Greinke's "Virga" album, released on Lotuspike. For all that time I didn't hear anything about this extraordinary artist, who is based in Tucson, Arizona. So the more surprised I was when "Scenes From A Train" CD crossed my radars via Hypnos Forum (thanks "Immersion" for the hint!!!). Yes, this release went by quite unnoticed within broader ambient community, it's a pity, because it deserves much bigger exposure even if it's not rooted to Jeff's older, more spookier ambient/dark ambient soundworlds. "Scenes From A Train" CD rather follows footsteps of his rhythmed, jazzy-infused side project Land. Released in June 2013 on UK label Infectious Music, Jeff Greinke is supported on this album by the long list of guests (there is no less than 13 of them!!!). Among them some which were part of above mentioned Land project.
Filigree musicianship is heard all over this entertaining sonic escapade. Richly flavored textures, merging warmer scenic vistas with lots of acoustic instrumentation and cascading from funky jazzy rhythms through weirdly tribal fields to sorrowful cinematic subtleties. Appealingly moving jazzy-funk/tribal pace of the opening title track "Scenes From A Train" immediately sets the atmosphere of a picturesque railroad travel. Bowed string mastery excels on sadly expressive piece, "The Beautiful Storm", while the next one, "Valley And Ridge" shifts back to rhythmed rails, where sparkling percussive tinkles with gentle clackers and shakers beautifully interact with the variety of bowed strings and wind instruments. Catchy laid-back train-like pace is achieved, while mingling with warmly inviting window's horizons. Pure beauty!!! Breathtakingly evocative mixture of trumpet, clarinet and viola leads "The Milky Way". Few dramatic crescendos sneak in throughout this stunningly expressive track. Small amount of exquisite Middle East fragrance is thrown in too (evoking unforgettable "Ngaio Gamelan"...). Deeply immersing cinematic realms are fully unfolded, more please!!! An ultimate Hall of Fame composition!!! Jazzy and tribal ingredients are again bridged in "Strange Birds", a piece driven by percussive downtempos, piano, cello and wind instruments. Hauntingly sculpted!!! "Haboob" keeps on the distinctive route with all the guitar and acoustic mastery, heavier post-rock infusions are featured in this oddly unique piece. Fortunately, aptly titled "Night Train" returns quickly to relaxing tribal mood surrounded by the interactions of trombone, clarinet, horn and distant dronescapes. Very nice!!! The album ends with "Autumn Moon", which features leisurely embracing and rhythmically stirring texture, augmented by velvety tinkles and female wordless ethereal chants. A truly enthralling finale!!!
"Scenes From A Train" album offers an all-inclusive, highly distinguishing travelogue experience, presented by challenging creativity of each participant. Jeff Greinke has teamed with many virtuoso performers, who have delivered to this recording their soul and spirit. Aural bliss awaits here, definitely!!! Excuse me for not mentioning any names of the guests in this review (plus mixing and mastering engineers), but it's the music that speaks for themselves and I didn't want to leave someone out. And I award extra points also for the visuals, the 4-panel digipak comes with additional 8-page booklet, precisely displaying the theme and dedication of each performer. The old Jeff Greinke is gone, that's for sure (at least on this album), but "Scenes From A Train" CD is a really big one as well, welcome back, Maestro!!!
Richard Gürtler (Dec 26, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)