Flashbacks is the fifth album by composer/pianist Barney McAll, and continues the exciting trajectory - begun with his debut, Exit - into his own distinctive sound world.
Like its predecessor, Mother of Dreams and Secrets, it features both brilliant guitar innovator Kurt Rosenwinkel and some traditional sacred Afro Cuban rhythms. But the Cuban influence is fully subsumed here, and there is no way that this album could be categorized as World Music. In fact, other than 'contemporary', it is hard to place any label on McAll's music.
With his own music, McAll takes us on a mysterious and unpredictable journey with each album. His experience writing film scores is evident in crafting an integrated 'whole'. Rather than extended features for his own keyboard skills, McAll is foremost an alchemist, mixing various - and seemingly diverse - elements into a unified sonic landscape. The sounds range from exquisitely delicate piano to the grungy guitar of "Red and Black Shifts". He incorporates electronic sounds too, but in a very subtle way, as an added texture rather than for clever effect (such as the delicate bell chimes sounds behind the guitar in "Costello"). He also knows how to use simplicity and space and let the music breathe. McAll has collaborated with vocalists and knows how to write songs and create real melodies. "Circle Cycle" works on a relatively simple repetition until near the end, when the horn harmonies introduce a layer of slightly unnerving discord to makes it seems like the ground is shifting form under you.
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