Dan Munkus: The Edge of the High Trace (self-released, 2021)

December 3, 2021 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dan Munkus: The Edge of the High Trace

The new album by Peekskill, New York-based composer Dan Munkus is a set of improvisation-based instrumentals dedicated to the memory of his late father, who unexpectedly passed away five years ago. The opening title track (the name of which came to Munkus in a dream, and he has no clue what the phrase means) is a 10-minute slow trek with mournful violin playing by Heather Sommerlad, as well as swarms of guitar feedback and steady, muscular drums carving a path through a darkened landscape. It’s undoubtedly informed by tragedy and feels like a procession of grief, but it’s still pressing onward, determined not to get bogged down by harsh memories. “The End of the High Trace” starts out with more of a moonlit glow, eventually developing guitar melodies which shimmer like northern lights, and it feels like encountering some fantastic visions while venturing into a remote area, far from the sight of any other humans. “Eighty-Four Today” is a solemn piano requiem, which gets shaded with guitar buzz later on, and then ends with a brief melody which suggests a moment of clarity. “Wooden Nickels” is a feast of disturbing yet fascinating noise textures and churning rhythms, snapping into focus when a beat emerges near the end. “A Once Lonely Man” features guest guitarist Tommy White, who adds creative textures as well as ripping solos, and it just blazes once the drums come in. So much feeling to this album.

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