Personnel: Rick Cox (electric guitar); Chas Smith (banjo); Fausto (mandolin); Dan Little (cello); Fred Parcells (trombone); Ingram Marshall (piano, electronics); Peter Garland, Conlon Nancarrow , Brian Pezzone (piano); Michael Jon Fink (celesta); Eugene Bowen (guitar synthesizer); Beverly Johnson, Little Kevin, Mike Perry, William Winant (marimba).
Recording information: Architecture, Los Angeles, CA (1976-1983); City Of Light Studios, Los Angeles, CA (1976-1983); Giant Studios, NY (1976-1983); Mag City, Los Angeles, CA (1976-1983); Mexico City, Mexico (1976-1983); New Albion, San Francisco, CA (1976-1983); Old Rugged Cross (1976-1983); Poiema Studios (1976-1983); Santa Cruz, CA (1976-1983); St. John's College (1976-1983); The Loft, Santa Fe, NM (1976-1983); University Of Toronto (1976-1983).
Editor: Carol Parkinson.
Although it presents works by most of the composers and artists who came to be closely associated with the label Cold Blue, this album was not a sampler, but a collection of unreleased works, an anthology of West Coast music focusing on experimentation while retaining a high degree of listenability and an ear stretched toward new age. The LP version of Cold Blue was released in 1984. In 2002 it was reissued on CD with one bonus track, David Mahler's "La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles," placed where you would normally have to flip the record. If anything, the album shows how the label's vision was precise without becoming confining. There is much variety, from Michael Jon Fink's delicate "Celesta Solo" and Daniel Lentz's composition for three speakers and wine glasses, "You Can't See the Forest...Music," to James Tenney's player piano piece "Spectral CANON for CONLON Nancarrow" and Chas Smith's pedal steel guitar-driven "Beatrix" (the last two bookend the album with sonic booms). And yet, a unified atmosphere of dreaminess and inward-looking sounds prevails. The contributions from Peter Garland, Lentz, and Tenney are the oldest, dating from the early '70s. All the other works were written and recorded in the early '80s. Mahler's added solo piano piece was written back in 1985 and recorded for this, its premiere release, by Bryan Pezzone in 2001. As avant-garde music at the turn of the century seemed confined to the extremes of noise and stamina on the one hand and the post-Feldman search for disappearance of sound on the other, one feels uncertain about how to approach the loveliness of the music on Cold Blue. Recommended. ~ François Couture