For Barry Ray: New Days

New Days by For Barry Ray, an experimental outfit comprised of married duo Carina Thorén and John Chantler, opens credibly with a wavering organ drone setting (“Through Holes, Glass & Stone”), freeform splashes of drums, electronics, and guest Dominic Garwood's clarinet (“David”), and rippling guitar fuzz and distorted keyboard noodling (“A Dark Blue Heat”). Par for the ROOM40 course, the Australian label's artists embrace adventurous, open-ended interplay that typically inhabits an abstract though far from alienating space; having said that, the disc's opening half doesn't offer anything not heard before. No, the really special stuff arrives after the woodwind streams of “ Aurora , Dancing...,” with the recording's most distinguishing moments occurring in its second half. The closing trio in particular elevates New Days when For Barry Ray's music turns into one of suggestion, with blank spaces between micro-guitar fragments left unfilled in “If Mingus Was Your Mother.” Plucked guitar splinters likewise meander in “Morgonstund” but the album's coup de grace is clearly “Blending Light” wherein accents of piano and acoustic guitar fade into desert-like expanses of near-silence (a percussive noise of some unidentifiable sort is audible in the distance) for nine minutes of beautiful stillness.

October 2007