Mar 1 2016
Time and again, I’m mesmerized by the lovely pairing of guitar and vibes. I love the way vibraphone’s icy elegance and guitar’s radiant warmth mesh conflicting qualities into a singular characteristic. I adore the way in which the two instruments are able to exist in both melodic and rhythmic states simultaneously, and the appealing similarities in how it manifests. And I’m transfixed by the sense of perpetual motion, of an endless dance these two instruments can conjure up when locked in conversation. Flower Starter, the 2015 release from guitarist Brad Shepik and vibraphonist Tom Beckham gets that instrumental collaboration all alone in the spotlight where it’s appealing facets and enviable connectivity points can shine brightly.
Opening tracks “Rumor” and “Medium” have an airy ambiance, as the endless possibilities for melodic expansion are carried away on rhythmic currents as varied as sunlight glowing on the surface of a river, whereas “Duet One” takes a more methodical approach to motion, and the dividends paid are the greater detail in which the melody is shaped and expanded. And all three, with their airy motion and melodic depth, are strongly reminiscent of a previous collaboration on Brad Shepik’s excellent 2011 quartet date Across the Way.
Title-track “Flower Starter” is about as gorgeous as a song can get. It begins with one melodic thread, then proceeds to unravel it and unleash a seemingly endless cascade of reflections of that original statement. “Episode” works a thick line of melodic thought, but lets little tangles and filaments peel off from the center. The groovy “Blues Inside Out” adds a playful touch to the recording, as well as structure to its up-tempo mode. “Duet 2” is a conversation parsed together from crossed wires and intertwining lines of communication, and the meaning is found in the emergent patterns. “Duet 3” is a catchy little song.
Just a beautiful album.
Your album personnel: Brad Shepik (guitar) and Tom Beckham (vibraphone).
The album is Self-Produced.
Listen to more album tracks at the artist’s Bandcamp page (LINK).
Learn more at the album-dedicated site (LINK).