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The Constant Flame


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Performer Notes
  • Alex Cline Ensemble: Alex Cline (drums, percussion); Alina Kemanis (vocals); G.E. Stinson (autoharp, electric guitar); Jeff Gauthier (violin); Wayne Peet (keyboards); Michael Elizondo (bass).
  • Additional personnel: Kaoru (vocals); Takako Uemura, Mutsy Erskine, Satoko Otsumura, Harumi Makino Smith, Noriko Peet (spoken vocals); Vinny Golia (soprano saxophone); Nels Cline (electric guitar); Peter Erskine (drums); Brad Dutz (congas, djembe); Christopher Garcia (mbwata); Dan Morris (mridangam).
  • Recorded at O'Henry Sound Studios, Burbank, California on January 13 & 14, 2001.
  • Personnel: Alex Cline (autoharp, kantele, synthesizer, percussion); G.E. Stinson (vocals, electric guitar, autoharp); Aina Kemanis, Kaoru (vocals); Nels Cline (electric guitar); Jeff Gauthier (violin); Vinny Golia (soprano saxophone); Wayne Peet (keyboards); Peter Erskine (snare drum); Brad Dutz (congas, djembe); Dan Morris (mradangam).
  • Audio Mixer: Rich Breen .
  • Liner Note Author: Alex Cline.
  • Recording information: O'Henry Studios, Burbank, CA (01/13/2001/01/14/2001).
  • Photographer: Karen Cline.
  • Readers: Noriko Peet; Mutsy Erskine; Takato Uemura; Satoko Otsumura; Harumi Makino Smith.
  • Unknown Contributor Role: Christopher Garcia.
  • Each composition on THE CONSTANT FLAME is dedicated to a different artistic or personal inspiration. The result defies categorization: hauntingly elegiac, thunderously experimental, quiet, meditatively ambient. "Summoning Spirits" commences with Alex Cline bashing around on his drums. The dreamily reverent "Benediction" follows, dedicated to Aina Kemanis, whose vocals dissolve gracefully into clouds of falling synth drones, Jeff Gauthier's violin, and the rolling surf of Cline's cymbals. The title track starts in that same vein before the day breaks, and flocks of birdlike jazz-fusion coalesce, all hooting horns and electric guitar. Things go deep for "Evening Bell" with piano and dreamy strings eventually wandering into a land of gongs and thumping tom toms as Kemanis charts an almost folk-singing course straight home to the heart. Each track writhes and rages like a dancing light in the darkness, making this ideal "deep listening" music. A poetic evocation of the crossroads between Eastern and Western artistry, life and death, and the shifting signatures of avant-garde jazz and haunting ambience, it clocks in at over 70 minutes without a single false note. This is sort of a sequel to 1999's SPARKS FLY UPWARD, which shares this indispensable album's air of fathomless mystery and compassion.
Professional Reviews
Down Beat (10/01, p.73) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...An unusual, beautifully realized concept..."
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