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FAME Review: Dennis Rea - Views from the Chicheng Precipice
Dennis Rea - Views from the Chicheng Precipice

Views from the Chicheng Precipice

Dennis Rea

Moonjune Records - MJR034

Available from Moonjune Records

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker (

Dennis Rea is an interesting gentleman whether he's trying to beat your brains out in his thunderous work in the mountainously juggernauting Moraine (here) and Iron Kim Style (here) or seducing the inner reaches of mentality with gorgeously wrought relics from distant lands. The guy never settles for an easily grasped gold ring, finding more of value in hidden corners and oblique promontories. Views from the Chicheng Precipice falls squarely in that latter mode.

Flanked by a chamber ensemble of exceptional finesse and beauty, Rea opts for a sedater yet more abstract approach to his six-string work, emulating Eastern modes, timbres, and inflections, drawing as much from Noh and rice paddies as from Tibetan refrains, everything peppered with Korean and Vietnamese overtones. In that, he more than once reaches back to some of the earlier unusual (and not very well known) guitarists like Blonker, Christian Boule, and the unorthodox Guitarists of the Apocalypse (otherwise known as Les 4 Guitaristes de L'Apocalypso, the post-Conventum group) while preserving the comportment of not just the expected koto, dan bau (which he plays here), and other stringed instruments but also biwa, shakuhachi, and mysterious wind axes.

The title cut displays the anarchic elements of King Crimson's Moonchild mid-section and Jamie Muir while it's follower, Tangabata, conflates some of the best old CTI sound (here, especially in Freddie Hubbard) with exceedingly airy swamp-jungle ambiances. Caterina De Ra, in a stunning vocal recitation in Aviariations, shows us what Yoko Ono, Meredith Monk, and Joan LaBarbera should've been doing all along. As you listen, Harold Budd's Pavilion of Dreams will likewise invoked as a comparative, not so much in concordance with Rea's milieu but for the same degree of breathtakingly exquisite craftsmanship and exotica. Thus, given all the aforegoing, I probably needn't mention that Views is releasing on the adventurous and far-reaching MoonJune label, an imprint that's saving progrock from itself…thank God…and the disc is recommended only to those with grandly elevated taste and discernment.

Surely you know someone of that caliber…yourself perhaps?

Track List:

  • Three Views from the Chicheng Precipice (9:56)
  • Tangabata (15:55)
  • Kan Hai de re Zi (3:41)
  • Aviariations on "A Hundred Birds Serenade the Phoenix" (6:51)
  • Bagua (10:35)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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