Spacemusic Reviews

Category: Jeff Pearce

Jeff Pearce: Songs for The Gathering

Songs for The Gathering

Songs for The Gathering

Jeff Pearce: Songs for The Gathering
Released: 20 March 2020

The setting is a grand, although unrestored, church sanctuary in Philadelphia on Saturday 10 June 2000 where Jeff Pearce is set to perform a show. Along with his performance set he has on offer (produced especially for attendees) a limited edition six track CD called Songs for The Gathering. It was the perfect souvenir for The Gatherings Concert Series audience as it offered music from this formative era and remained out of print, becoming a collector’s item for a full two decades. Having now rediscovered (and remastered) this material, and added on two additional contemporaneous pieces, Songs for The Gathering (58’27”) has been given a proper re-issue – just in time to commemorate the porcelain anniversary of its first release, and also to remind us of the hope we all felt at the beginning of the 21st century.

Sending sound into space, each composition induces its own unique zone. Pearce’s six steel strings shiver under his light touch, with every tone challenging gravity’s pull. Each note builds on the promise of the one that came before, revealing a robust creative vision. Yet, in its inviting minimalism even the sparest of the tracks contain references to the cosmos. As sonic eddies form, slow yearning melodies reiterate at the rate and depth of a sleeper’s breath – and Songs for The Gathering deepens from the pleasant and consonant into the transcendent and moving. Arising from shorelines of unearthly radiance the mesmerizing impact of this music’s aural texture ventures to defeat space and time. Yet, when he commands it, this guitarist’s picking, looping and E-Bow echo techniques are exact and clear. In the dancing delicacy of arpeggio chords the spare procession of isolated notes articulate a soaring, confident energy – which settles down ultimately into a refuge of otherworldly beauty.

Songs for The Gathering is a lambent landmark from two decades ago, yet its bright message remains as meaningful as when it was first delivered. Written in a language and performed with a skill that has stayed with us across the 20 years since first hearing it, this music has been revived to help us through the times in which we now find ourselves. What can an artist expect to achieve in the shadow of disaster and doubt? For Jeff Pearce it has been quite a lot. In many a profound musical moment he has encountered glints of transcendence, and the hint of how things might have been in a less brutal world.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END30 April 2020

Jeff Pearce: Skies and Stars

Skies and Stars

Skies and Stars

Jeff Pearce: Skies and Stars
Released: 13 September 2019

Jeff Pearce has a way of making unique experiences transferable. Skies and Stars (59’57”) is his dramatic reflection on the night sky, and possibly even the forces that have placed him there beneath it. Celebrating the first lights of evening onward his music widens the aperture on the heavens as it tightens its hold over our attention. With its three tracks of lush layered guitar orchestrations this album seems of an endless energy. Under a cavernous reverberation metal wires vibrate and bend, then breath and bloom into atmospheres, textures, and passages of interiority. Each silvery string on Pearce’s guitar has a story to tell… a different episode of time in which the listener and the music become the same through the seemingly endless decay and regeneration of all things in the Cosmos. This music gives few answers, preferring to dwell on the enigmatic. With its daunting intervals and shiny core, Skies and Stars is shrouded in a misty mystical digital signal processing. Through the clever use of loop pedals, long echoes and the splitting and shifting of sonics a dreamy cloud of harmony is realized – yet with always a few tones still lurking in a vast darkness. Trembling with emotion, the music conveys a timeless yearning. This musician seeks permanence, not transience – but the magic of each of his work’s many musical moments vanishes as soon as we pay them any notice. Fans of this style of Spacemusic will know that from there to here is never a straight line. In an era of fidgeting, Skies and Stars offers an arc of unbroken concentration. As the world seems about to slip and tip off its axis, Jeff Pearce is making music for whatever is beyond the horizon of this failing realm. Listening past its ample exploratory marvels, this album offers a kindness, a gentle warm familiarity, rendered into a beautiful keepsake.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END12 September 2019

Jeff Pearce: From the Darker Seasons

From the Darker Seasons

From the Darker Seasons

Jeff Pearce: From the Darker Seasons
Released: 22 September 2017

Emotions rise and fall, they come and go. It is only desire that is constant – and which is the substance of all great music. The work of Jeff Pearce feels the tug of this gravity. His album From the Darker Seasons (54’19”) forges yet another wonderful wordless connection with his audience. If it suffers from anything, it is that, in delivering its message, the music is almost too gorgeous for its own good. The eight pieces that make up From the Darker Seasons present Pearce the electric guitarist playing chords deliberately paced and picked and echoing out across great distances – caught forever in the hold of his compositional design. As trails of digital reverb hang in the air, atmospheric eddies at once diffuse, smooth and enrich the glowing textures around the defined notes. While these warm, heart-felt songs foretell the coming of shorter days, this album’s deep ambient zones provide their own frost wrought peace. Against a rush of darkness Pearce’s long tones address the bright starred face of lengthening nights. The expansion of excited steel strings through electronic processing produces a harmonically sustained movement – where the setting for such contemplative chords will seem numinous to our teeming, gleaning minds. Sounds emerge, then slide and glide toward and past one another in quiet transformation. Within these pieces, awareness is incremental. Drawing affirmation out of the renewing power of music, From the Darker Seasons readily throws off light. In a work of music there must be something more than what is refereed to as force. There must be distinction, and a rarity of feeling. Jeff Pearce is playing for this fragile cause.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 5 October 2017

Jeff Pearce: Follow the River Home

Follow the River Home

Follow the River Home

Jeff Pearce: Follow the River Home
Released: 3 June 2016

Jeff Pearce continues to exhibit a calm confidence over his abilities. Throughout the course of Follow the River Home (52’51”) we will venture from the basic trembling of the air to a quickening of our consciousness. His work takes hold of us – speaking in a way in which words cannot. We feel a verging as Pearce releases imagery in seven studies on the beauty of musical timbre. In some places a stimulant, in others a tranquilizer, his audience easily follows the moral instruction of the music. The richness of tone – its intelligence, its casual precision – is felt from the first note. Generating a flux of musical expectations, Pearce raises anticipation at every turn. His use of digital processing, interspersed with clean playing, allows the vibrations emanating from his electric guitar to morph, swirl and assume a new identity. Filtered electronically this sound first begins as sympathetic resonation, in the generation of unexpected overtones. The resulting masterful formations are stirring exchanges of texture and atmosphere, resulting in distinctive moods and spirits. At many points during Follow the River Home, a coherent soloing plucks and picks through arpeggiated chords, and undergoes harmonic transitions gradually – as this shapely music activates our minds just as much as it flutters our hearts. Big chords then roll in through deep reverberation, possibly transporting the mind to a higher than normal level of integration. Three of the tracks express themselves in undulating swells of notes, generating the album’s most spacey moments. There is a sonic glory here, as Pearce expresses some dark impulses… and then hope. He plays this music to light up the least grain of being in us – often finding our still point, and the deeper relations that hold this music together.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END21 July 2016

Jeff Pearce: With Evening Above

With Evening Above

With Evening Above

With Evening Above by Jeff Pearce
Released: 8 June 2014

Prayer can bring to each of us a peace and a calm and a sense of unity with The Universe, but it takes art and music to fluently speak about this grace. With Evening Above (54’11”) is guitarist Jeff Pearce‘s vivid pictorial dream music. Beautiful in its curvature and ascension one cannot listen to this album without being drawn into a higher more ethereal realm. Alive with feeling, Pearce’s eight miraculous constructs are more than just the simple feedback imagination displayed by other mainstream guitarists. The smooth spacey tracks on With Evening Above offer a rearrangement of reality. These are Pearce’s wholly invented cosmic soundscapes, conjured through digital wizardry and manipulated in ways we cannot even imagine. The stacking of long tones and slow melodic lines yield an interesting harmonic motion, as well as resonate with new and unpredicted timbre (this even more so in the concert setting of a cavernous church sanctuary where Pearce has been known to occasionally perform his works live for an audience). The few active, structured tracks provide an immediacy – felt through the transmittable design of Pearce’s personal revelations. These are composed, consonant vignettes of plucked electric echo-guitar. In the interlock of picked strings and digital delay these tracks twine up, down and through sober-steady arpeggiations. Asking for our presence these songs are slow, methodic, melodic, multi-layered and drenched in reverb. The long zone which concludes With Evening Above ventures into the realm of private understandings – things that largely go unspoken. Combining the fundamental materials of music, sonics and time, Pearce’s individual sounds are diffused in a continuous conformation. Gradually changing but always with a minimum of incident his guitar-studio color and harmony float in space. Working in this manner Pearce is able to examine complex emotional themes without trivializing them. Since it moves only forward, most people loath Time. Throughout Pearce’s music, the unification of sustained tones, static textures, consonance and modal harmony suggests the idea of this music as an immeasurable space – one which we may temporarily dwell in, outside of the inevitable passage of time.

(Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END9 October 2014)