With Among the Missing, David Pritchard enters a new phase in a long career that started in 1969, seeing the guitarist as a member of the infamously cool Gary Burton Quartet, later a founder of the obscure but cult-cherished Contraband fusion progsemble (n, hey, don't make the same mistake I did the first time around and mistake Contraband's keyboardist Pete Robinson as Quatermass' Pete Robinson—the guy Pritchard played with had gigged alongside Shelly Manne and is now known as 'Peter Manning Robinson', probably to eliminate confusion). Bafflingly, the frequently boneheaded Allmusic site has called Pritchard's most recent work "New Age", but, in all truth, he's actually reprising what created the New Age movement, not its outfall. Can someone kinda sneak into Allmusic and start supplying valid reviews so that good music doesn't suffer? Ya know, push aside Richie Unterberger and ilk, that kinda gig. It's time for a regime change.
The emphasis in Missing is not so much on Pritchard this time around as on guitars resonating in triads throughout the disc, Kevin Tiernan and Ioannis Markoulakis joining Dave on acoustic axes. It's been five years since 2009's Vertical Eden (here), and the advances in his compositional wont are appreciable. Leif Woodward adds in cello and viola da gamba for expansive canvases as Steve Anderson toils away at the bass, Christopher Garcia lending percussives. Think Oregon, Towner-period Paul Winter, Alex de Grassi, that sort of thing—as said: the intellectual germ seed which spawned the oft disappointing and much too frequently weak New Age parlor banalities lamentably over-rewarded by an indiscerning public. Contrary to Allmusic's assertion, I doubt Pritchard could lobotomize himself sufficiently to emit New Age pap.
"Shimmering" would be the best adjective for his new disc, "hypnotic" would tag along behind, and you'd have to go a fair distance to locate companion musicians of the same caliber: Carl Weingarten, maybe Alain Markusfeld, Michael Hedges, that sort of player. Certain cuts are entire unearthly environments, rich with detail and effulgent horizons, while others, the solo Just One Look for instance, concentrate on miniatures, tableaus within tableaus. All of it, however, is not the sort of fare intelligent listeners love to intellectually parse but rather environments in which to revel and meditate. Yep, I know I just seemed to contradict my earlier claim of non-New-Agery but I didn't, and you have to hear the music to understand why. Some things go beyond words. That's bad news for critics but great news for aesthetes.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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