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St. Helena

Walter Kolosky only writes reviews of music that he highly recommends :-)
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are. Credit must go to "Walter Kolosky- Author of the books Power, Passion and Beauty and Follow Your Heart- John McLaughlin song by song.")

St. Helena
                            Tim Kuhl                        eleven2eleven records

Ryan Ferreira: electric guitar (track 1)
Sofia Impellizzeri: voice, countess (track 2 & 4)
Tim Kuhl: drums, cymbals, gong, assorted percussion, glockenspiel
Grey Mcmurray: electric & acoustic guitar, effects, voice
Rick Parker: trombone, effects
Jared Samuel: electric & synth bass, celeste
Philip Sterk: pedal steel guitar (track 2 & 7)
Joshua Valleau: wurlitzer, synth

“3612”, the first cut on Tim Kuhl’s latest downloadable album St. Helena, is quite typical for Kuhl, but atypical for anyone else. The tune consists of six minutes of a simple, yet engaging, mantric electronic drone. That is it. No melody. No drums. No anything else.  The opener is actually a solo piece ingeniously produced with guitar and sound effects by fine guitarist Ryan Ferreira. Being familiar with Kuhl’s previous work, it is no surprise that he may have someone else play a six-minute solo to begin the festivities on his own album!  Kuhl’s projects always diverge  greatly, but composition and purpose always take precedence over a need to show off his estimable chops. Much as a painter, Kuhl only uses the appropriate brushes and colors to cover his canvas. If that means he sits out from time to time, or adds only shades and shadows, he does so. It also means that when he needs to, he will lay on globs of paint.

St. Helena is designed to be listened to as one long piece. At only 32 minutes in length, the depth of the work still has plenty of time to penetrate while not taking up half your day.

St. Helena, though a structured proposition, can have a free-form feeling to it. At times, its spacial ambiance  reminds of  “Yesternow,” side two of Miles Davis’ landmark album Tribute to Jack Johnson. There is also a passing resemblance in microcosm, particularly in the use of horns and voice, to Carla Bley’s epic Escalator Over The Hill. Other times the music is a hard-charging affair underpinned by revolving rhythms, riffs and motifs.  (“See “Emperor Butterfly” and  the fusion-round  “Dead Bell.”)

The last two pieces of the seven-part suite aren’t quite as good as the first five, but they are still fulfilling and help to round out a remarkable album.

Tim Kuhl’s St. Helena is another gem in a growing line of outstanding creative efforts from a musician who understands that real substance, still with plenty of style, wins over empty flash every time. Make every effort to obtain St. Helena and also check out Kuhl’s earlier works such as the outstanding King.