Suzanne Ciani’s work as a synthesizer pioneer dates to the instrument’s infancy, and Lixiviation is a fascinating document that collects both Ciani’s musical compositions and her work as one of the first sound designers. So alongside full-length numbers such as the title track (an entrancing volley of swooshes, bleeps and arpeggios devoid of rhythmic foundation), you also get Ciani’s eight-second sound logo for Coca Cola, in which she uses electronic sleight of hand to mimic a popping can and fizzing bubbles.
Chicago’s Kenny Haas mixes it up with live storytelling, prerecorded stories and a smorgasbord of musical genres--from polka (“Don’t Let Those Chickens Run Away”) to a capella doo-wop (“Kitty Delight”). Among the storytelling highlights, “The Loneliest Crayon” recounts how a gray-violet crayon finally gets her turn coloring in a princess gown, while “The Squirrel That Shared” imparts a tender lesson in generosity that could dent even the hardest adult heart. Available at cdbaby.com.
On the cover of Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen holds his iconic Fender Esquire guitar, the same ax he sported on his 1975 masterpiece Born to Run. Back then, saxophonist Clarence Clemons stood to his left, coaxing an impish grin from the young rocker. Now, on his first disc since Clemons’s death, Bruce stands solitary and sullen against a black backdrop.
At junctures, Springsteen finds morning in the heart of mourning. “Death to My Hometown” tips its hat to the Occupy movement, melting an Irish reel and South African chanting into an infectious stomp-along.
Most Westerners know Sufi music through the great singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This digital-download collection introduces six Sufi and Baul/Hindu artists largely unheard outside India. It’s a spellbinding trip into mystical art with a tender heart, showcased in poignant, centuries-old teaching songs about love, humanity and devotion. “Ayat Koran Pore Sudhu Naam Thikana,” by Akkas Fakir, entrances with its plaintive, echo-laden vocal and galloping tabla-and-tambourine rhythm. The collection also features Arati Biswas, one of the few renowned female Baul singers.
City of Peace will appeal mainly to fans of smooth jazz, though the piano track featuring Teresa Scanlan (Miss America 2011) takes the standard “Chopsticks” on a playful, high-speed joyride. “Streets of Light” (featuring saxophonist Jerry Marcellino) suggests the mood of a rainy Manhattan Friday night, while the reverb-drenched album closer “Streams of Mercy” uses watery textures and string scraping to craft an evocative tone poem.
The spate of books on John Henry Newman shows that there is little hope of settling arguments about him—or about Benedict's understanding of him.
Jill Gill has produced a remarkable account of the declining influence of mainline Protestantism and the NCC in the 1960s and 70s.
Amanda Porterfield details the degree of rationalist skepticism in 1790s America—and its demise in the face of a Protestant counterattack.