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Aural Pleasure Review

"Blue" Gene Tyranny: Detours

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The latest record from this legendary San Antonio expatriate collects four haunting piano pieces that are largely characterized by the dichotomy between space and sound. Gene has always successfully flirted with different styles, but Detours blends pop, jazz, and classical idioms in a remarkably imperceptible way. Opener "13 Detours" manages to recall Bill Evans, Erik Satie, and Leo Brouwer in its harmonic language without ever sounding like any of them. The piece is full of breathtaking moments where harmonies are suspended in silence before resolving in new territories. The variations in the marvelous "George Fox Searches" take a nearly maudlin Quaker spiritual tone and explore the tonal possibilities of the tune in an epic, John Fahey-esque manner. "She Wore Red Shoes" and "Intuition" incorporate gentle electronics in different but equally effective ways. The former pits Gene's virtuosic soloing over a loop reminiscent of the composer's work on Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives, while the latter is a gorgeous slice of ambience that puts the recent duets of Fennesz/Sakamoto to shame. Detours is a wonderfully understated record that rewards repeat listens and could be an early contender for one of the best releases of 2012.

★★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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