Chris Russell has released his third album on the Relaxed Machinery label, and fifth overall. Home is a double-CD and definitely a significant step forward in Chris’ musical progression. It’s easily his most personal and intimate album yet – his own River of Appearance, if you like. That’s the parallel which immediately came to mind for me.
As with the vidnaObmana classic, the decisive factor here is the use of piano, a recording first for Chris. You could call it Ambient Salon Music, and the piano at times sounds appropriately French. The pieces’ titles each succinctly capture their feel and meaning in one word.
The piano dominates the first disc, a strong presence in all eight pieces, lending a sense of place – of home. My two favorites here are the album’s longest and shortest tracks: Solace, a backyard sanctuary on a warm day, with the intensity ramped up at times by strings and strong bass, and relaxed by a quiet organ; and Glimmer, with bouncing hollow leads weaving a charged light-matrix, over an understated piano. Perhaps the album’s most striking piece.
Welcome opens the album with an almost Oriental feeling, aided by searing tambura-like lines, establishing a comfortable atmosphere. February closes the first disc with a quiet solo piano interlude, evoking the stillness of a sunny winter day with repeating three-note motives in the right hand.
The eight pieces on the second disc move into more ineffable and unfamiliar territory, as the title of the first, Ethereal, announces, with its long droning organ-string-pad chord and far-distant piano. Horizon has bass guitar harmonics under shimmering, reedy organ-strings and flitting synth-flute. In Dusk you can practically hear the sun setting, with a terrific, serene yet charged synth patch over clanky loose-strung bass guitar tones.
In Eventide, Chris builds up a big string synth chord, the sound of which neatly morphs, as if with the waning sun. Together Again closes the album with lots of processed birds and a soothing string pad, lending a serene feeling of homecoming.
Home flows by smoothly, but not lightly – rather, full of feeling and personal meaning. This album is a fine companion for a day… you know where. It’s available on MP3 from CD Baby, and is coming soon on lossless FLAC from AD21 Music and CDR from Hypnos. Highly recommended!