GLENN'S NEW ALBUM
"Cinematheque" (2021) available exclusively on BandCamp
sample track: "Reflections"
REVIEW BY GREG HOWARD
It's a cliché that instrumental musicians often hear, "your music would make a great soundtrack for a movie." Glenn Poorman's latest album, Cinematheque
, takes that idea and runs with it, offering ten evocative and satisfying tracks, each a mood, a place, a setting, where the action unfolds.
The first thing Glenn's fans will notice is that this is not a "Stick album" in the way that his debut 121 Normal
release was. That record was built predominantly from layers and layers of Stick parts and loops, a multitrack Stick orchestra at its core. Cinematheque
's cast is a diverse ensemble of equals, with lots of acoustic and electric guitar, fretless bass, synths, sampled percussion and drums, acoustic piano, and Alto and Grand Stick, each taking their turns in starring and supportive roles, sometimes highlighting their signature sounds, and sometimes treating them more orchestrally.
Several of the compositions are brand new, and some are re-imaginings of tunes he wrote in his early years as a composer, before he even played The Stick, brought up to date, sonically and instrumentally as well, with The Alto and Grand Sticks taking over parts that were originally written for keyboards and guitars.
Lush, patient and driving, opener "First Light" starts out as an Alto Stick and synth duet. Sweet and surprising chord changes distinguish each chorus, as more and more instruments are added, culminating in a grand swelling ensemble that is just so satisfying to listen to.
"The Calling" blends acoustic, electric and electronic elements perfectly — acoustic guitar, a soaring Minimoog, percussion, synth strings, an oddly Stick-like fretless bass, and high-energy harp-like Alto Stick cadences with driving percussion. This is music for an exciting voyage...
Romantic "Boston Blue", is built around a tasty and memorable acoustic guitar lick, electric guitar harmonics and lilting slide guitar. The guitars and Grand Stick dance around each other, and set the stage for an impassioned Stick solo. We get to hear how balanced Glenn is as a musician here, able to deliver the goods on all the instruments he brings to the table.
"What Once Was", starting out as a wistful acoustic guitar duet with some eerie synth-like electric guitar swells, unfolds so slowly you almost don't notice how Glenn plays with time in the midsection. A subtle Alto Stick joins for the ending.
The unsettling pairing of mysterious acoustic piano and tonal and atonal synthesizers is surprisingly effective on "Eventide". Glenn’s gift for patience gives us time to hear every little shift and absorb it before he moves on to the next scene.
"Voyager" features a mysterious backing track of whispery voices and cryptic nature sounds, beautifully interwoven Grand Stick and finger style acoustic guitar lines. A languid slide guitar melody adds another layer to the mix, but this isn't another "looping" tune, there are some nice harmonic and sonic surprises ahead.
Loop-based "Reich Dream"”" harkens back to the minimalist composer's influence, unfolding slowly, layer upon layer of Grand Stick loops, and an improvised soaring Grand Stick swells.
"In The Orchard", a cheery, loping "march" that began life as a looped Stick piece but has morphed here into a full rock band ensemble with keyboards, bass and drums, It could easily be the backdrop to the end credits, but there are two more tracks to come.
Dense, minor and orchestral, "The Saint" finds Glenn’s Grand Stick awash in synthesizers, arpeggiating and swaying in 6/8 from chord to chord, with some beautiful major lifts. A great dissolve takes us out just in time for the upbeat closer...
"Reflections" is a great example of Glenn’s distinctive writing style, as energetically interwoven moving parts propel the tune slowly forward, with a great guitar solo soaring over it all. Skilled director that Glenn is, it's as much fun to go back through these tracks and follow individual voices as it is to take in the whole picture.
Can’t wait for the sequel.
Greg Howard, Charlottesville, Virginia