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From the Darker Seasons
By Jeff Pearce
Label: Jeff Pearce Music
Released 9/22/2017
From the Darker Seasons tracks
1. A Walk Through the Leaves
2. Sun on Frost
3. Constellations
4. The River in Late Autumn
5. Downdrift
6. Midnight Snow
7. A long Winter's Sleep
8. Cold Comfort
JEFF PEARCE - From The Darker Seasons
I had to laugh a little bit inside myself when I saw the title of Jeff Pearce's latest album, From The Darker Seasons because I think a lot of Jeff's music is suitable for fall and winter, what with his motifs of somberness and melancholic beauty. Granted that not everything he does is like that, but all my favorite Jeff Pearce albums are those that highlight the "darker" evocations from his music. Until I heard it, I thought, "Oh my, does this mean there is an even more somber side to this guy?" Of course, that is not the case. Instead, Pearce once again demonstrates mastery over an assortment of guitar-driven ambient soundscapes, as he did on his last CD, Follow The River Home. Not to say From The Darker Seasons is just "more of the same" in comparison to Follow The River Home, (not a bad thing, in and of itself), but that on both albums, Pearce opens up his guitar toolbox and showcases everything from reverbed gently played guitar notes (the opening gorgeous "A Walk Through the Leaves" is the perfect example of that style) to long-form drone ambient textural spacescapes, such as "A Long Winter's Sleep."

As with all his recordings, the engineering and production cannot be faulted in any way I can fathom. It is amazing that Jeff Pearce does everything except the mastering which he leaves to the estimable Tom Eaton. Lots of artists "try" to do it all, and in general, they don't screw up; but few do it as well as Pearce does. Also of note is how beautiful his cover art always is (well, since he started his own label, that is). I would be proud to hang many of his album covers on my living room wall, especially In the Season of Fading Light, Rainshadow Sky, and Follow the River Home. Of course, I can just hear him tell me "Bill, I didn't do any of the art!" to which I would reply, "Yeah, Jeff, I know, but you did select it." He's so damn humble, that Jeff Pearce.

Besides the aforementioned "A Walk Through the Leaves," the album also features the following tracks: the too-short (which is meant as a compliment, obviously) "Sun On Frost," which is similar to the preceding album opener; "Constellations," a six minute exploration of shifting tones and textures, capturing the feel of stars moving across an inky-dark sky; "The River in Late Autumn," a superbly moody piece featuring reverbed finger-style and strummed guitar notes and chords and likely my favorite cut on the album; "Downdrift," with swirling iridescent textures that bespeak of the cold beauty that Pearce describes in the liner notes as "…there is a hidden beauty in the slow fading autumn, and in the blanketed landscapes of winter, with moonlight on snow being the definition of 'natural beauty' to me;" "Midnight Snow" with pinging sonar-like guitar notes that coalesce and break apart almost like a poetic dance of snowflakes; the previously noted "Long Winter's Sleep;" and the closing "Cold Comfort," and its peaceful marriage of warm, rich guitar notes and an underlying ambient bed of hushed drones.

I've been reviewing Jeff Pearce's music since he started releasing it (well, actually, my first review of his music was his second album, The Hidden Rift). Anyone who reads my reviews of his work knows the high regard I hold for his talent. I have ceased to be surprised at how he continues to develop his unique brand of guitar ambient music (and I also have enjoyed his forays into piano and Chapman stick, too). He has won numerous ZMR awards and deservedly so. From The Darker Seasons could be seen as "more of the same" in that it's yet another successful and praiseworthy Jeff Pearce release, but he's always working at his craft and his latest shows that his muse is not done with him yet. Let's be thankful for that.
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 2/5/2018
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