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Nate Dorward     Fields likes to devise purposely meaningless catchphrases for his music — his latest is “transparent music.” I guess I’ll rise to the bait: that seems to me a pretty good description of his admirably lucid hour-long chamber-trio piece christangelfox. The band consists of Fields (on nylon-string guitar), clarinettist Guillermo Gregorio and cellist Matt Turner, all three of whom also make use of a “percussion array”: four pieces of scrap metal donated by a sculptor friend, four pieces of stone, four pieces of wood. Despite the disc’s striking title, the music is not especially devotional: this is the sound of calm thought rather than prayer. It’s a rapt nocturne — languid and whimsical, full of soft hoots, wistful cries, and flintstone-spark showers of plinks and clanks. Boundaries become blurred: improvisation and composition are virtually impossible to tell apart, and the piece’s even, unhesitating inner pulse overrides the usual distinctions between free time and meter. You hear this pulse most clearly in an eight-minute episode at the piece’s centre that sounds like an anxious, sped-up version of Messiaen’s “Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus.” (Maybe there’s something to the disc’s devotional title after all….) The homemade percussion becomes more sporadic from this point on, and as the mood becomes darker and intenser one almost misses its cheerful, irritating jangle. In the end the piece doesn’t so much resolve as come to rest, the piece’s now-familiar themes restated softly and less surely, the musicians spinning them out finer and finer until at last they break. At times christangelfox recalls Gavin Bryars (“Allegrasco,” especially) or Morton Feldman, or some of the AACM’s gentler excursions, but basically this is completely sui generis. “Transparent music”? Maybe you could call it mood music — though what mood, I couldn’t possibly say. You’ll just have to listen and find out. —   Cadence Magazine

Jerry D’Souza     Three musicians gather to make music. Each plays an instrument and percussion that comes in a set of four. Their percussion comprises scrap metal, stone, and wood, all of which float on foam slabs. They begin and then go on for the next hour playing the composition of Scott Fields. The music on christangelfox is influenced by Asian cultures, but as Fields notes in the liner notes, that intention is not formal. But it does give a pith and air to the process, whether it be in the loop and swell of the cello from Matt Turner or the cry and plea that emanates from the clarinet of Guillermo Gregorio. And Fields lets his guitar lilt on a classical progression or lets the notes thrill to a flamenco rhythm to lend a different dimension. There is plenty of interaction and conversation. The devolution takes some nice turns and twists, even if much of it is essayed in an equable atmosphere. But it is in this environ that they thrive and give vent to their imaginations. There are moments, though, when they ruffle the calm, and while it is just a passing thought, it does bring in a likeable ruffle. One of them comes around the 26th minute, when the metal and the wood percussion gets into an animated discussion while Gregorio curls, twists and blows breathy notes. In tandem they create one of the more breathtaking moments on the record. Despite its length, and given that this is one continuous performance, it holds interest. —   All About Jazz

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