Brooklyn-based Arlen Hart Ginsburg has just released his first album as a solo artist, titled Radian (“a brief look into the infinite story of New York City”). Ginsburg has performed internationally with jazz ensembles and hip hop groups, and his last decade was spent touring with Lady Moon & The Eclipse as well as composing for film, theater, dance and podcast.
Ginsburg describes his music as “underwater, groovy, wavy, day glow.” His Bandcamp page also lists “chill and meditative.” Ginsburg explains: “The sounds of New York City are a constant and significant presence; the machines, the people, the animals. The cacophony is inescapable and inspired me to create music that soothes the tension, embraces it and can feel like jumping into it!” Instrumentally these songs have a range of audio palettes featuring pianos, synths, mbira, strings and drums. Recording took place in Ginsburg’s Brooklyn apartment using Logic. Mixing was by Matt Shane and mastering by Alex DeTurk at Bunker Studios in Brooklyn.
“Thawing” is based on a gentle percussive shuffle, in a time signature I can’t quite ascertain. It’s filled with somewhat mysterioso keyboards, and feedback is even used as an instrument. It’s the longest cut here and takes its time exploring opaque variations in tone and mood. “Underwater Robots” features a great stutter-y beat like a remote submersible machine doing its work and then slowly dying down. I can easily imagine this is the kind of music Ginsburg composes for films.
“Making Lights” has circular rhythms that suggest an android’s dance floor, somewhat in the Kraftwerk vein. It’s mostly percussive dance music with simple melodies and a slow build. “Ordinary Confusion” continues the previous drum template but with slightly dissonant or “confusing” keyboard parts with a classical solo piano break toward the end. “A Bath” features cheeky bass lines and jazzy keys, laying a background for bursts of hiss (or bathtub steam?) as the second lead instrument!
“Horizontal Thunder” begins with tinkling percussion and metallic, retro synth patches before settling into an Asian-influenced piano and bass riff. “Missing The Sunset” suggests distant explosions which then kicks into a triple time beat like a victorious army marching home with appropriately glorious banks of keys.
Though some of this album leans a bit “virtual” for my personal taste, overall I loved Ginsburg’s sounds and melodies and look forward to more in the future.
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