Stuart McCallum: Distilled - Album of the Month - November 2011

~ Wednesday, 16 November 2011
McCallum is the guitarist with the wonderful Cinematic Orchestra and with Distilled he has produced a beautiful record that sounds sublime. There is no doubt that some may find the experimental nature of the record and lack of vocals challenging but this is a record of layers and depth that reveals something new with each listen.

Album opener dR Doctor is a blissful mix of percussion and guitar in perfect harmony that could just as easily fill a dance floor as it could captivate an audience. McCallum's use of samples and effects gives a 'trip hop' feel while his guitar playing has shades of Pat Metheny and Allan Holdsworth. Both Hillcrest parts I and II are perfect examples of this as he slips into avant garde jazz mode. The acoustic La Cigale and Fokey Dokey are both dream like, with the former giving way to disjointed jazz leanings and the latter unfolding into a summers walk in a meadow of tall grass swaying in the breeze as the sun shimmers in the late evening haze.

Vital Space takes orchestral elements and bends the rules with erratic drum patterns and delayed guitar harmonics for a sensory treat for your ears and brain but it is the mesmerising Inflight that steals the show for me. The repetitive blend of electronica with acoustics and its changing time signatures are trance like while the guitar work is both complementary and disjointed. Bloody genius.

The album closed on the title track which wouldn't seem out of place on a Laurent Garnier dj set or on the terrace of Cafe Del Mar as the sun sets with its driving beats and synth riff layered with string samples. I like this record a lot. This is emotive music that many people will label as 'jazz' while the jazzers will dismiss it as to left field but to me it is beautiful, challenging, mesmerising and original. A record to cherish.

[][][][][] (5/5)