Jefre Cantu~Ledesma — Tracing Back the Radiance (July 12, 2019) Pamela MÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃéndez ÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃÃâ Time (22 Feb 2019)Location: New York, NY
Album release: July 12, 2019
Record Label: Mexican Summer
Duration:     41:40
1. Palace Of Time   21:10
2. Joy   5:00
3. Tracing Back The Radiance   15:30
✹   Jefre Cantu~Ledesma — Effects processing, Vibraphone.
✹   John Also Bennett — Flute
✹   Marilu Donavan — Harp
✹   Chuck Johnson — Pedal steel guitar
✹   Gregg Kowalsky — Synthesizer
✹   Mary Lattimore — Harp
✹   David Moore — Piano, Organ.
✹   Meara O’Reilly — Voice
✹   Jonathan Sielaff — Bass Clarinet
✹   Roger Tellier Craig — Synthesizer, Effects processing
✹   Christopher Tignor — Violin
✹   Mastered by Stephan Mathieu
✹   Photograph by Traianos Pakioufakis with thanks to MAN~TLE
About the Vinyl:
∠∠   Pressed at RTI
∠∠   Printed Pantone Inner sleeve
∠∠   Includes Download Card
∠∠    Some records aren’t as simple as they seem. Most are capsules of beauty and creative vision, or sublime objects of expression which occupy the abstract realms. But the rare few are also discrete philosophies, realized in sound – a truth brought to the forefront by Mexican Summer veteran, Jefre Cantu~Ledesma’s, latest venture, Tracing Back The Radiance. A radical departure from pop drenched melodies which have defined his recent efforts, its experimental forms offer a dynamic rethinking of the terms and possibilities of discourse and collaboration — a vast ambient landscape of abstraction, texture, and tone, beneath which lingers a veiled vision, addressing the challenges of our increasingly disassociated age.
∠∠    A slow, delicate meditation — open space punctuated by the restrained harmonics of vibraphone, processing, flute, pedal steel, synthesizer, piano, organ, and voice, Tracing Back The Radiance grew from a few simple piano lines, a need for change, and an evolving process which fell somewhere between conversation, singular vision, and a wild game of exquisite corpse — Cantu~Ledesma acting as contributor, servant, and guiding force to the emerging album’s all~star cast of voices — John Also Bennett, Marilu Donavan, Chuck Johnson, Gregg Kowalsky, Mary Lattimore, David Moore, Meara O’Reilly, Jonathan Sielaff, Roger Tellier Craig, and Christopher Tignor, each responding and intervening from various corners of North America.
∠∠    The outcome – a mood and space rather than a definable sound, slowly molded by Cantu~Ledesma over the better part of a year, delves toward the basic, but all too often overlooked drive of experimental music — the unknown. Led by the circumstances and challenges at hand – fundamental notions of voice, growth, expression, location, collective and individual authorship, the possibilities opened by collaboration, and the limitations posed when distances separate your community of peers, the materiality of Tracing Back The Radiance’s three works – “Palace of Time,” “Joy,” and “Tracing Back The Radiance,” through process, construction, and interaction, double as social metaphor and example — a conversation where each voice leads while being led – individual, yet speaking within another’s vision and voice. An interactive form of paradoxical democracy, appearing as an immersive, conversant expanse of sound, imbued with optimism — inspiring for what it is, as much as how it was made — a living, responsive reimagining of musique concrète.
∠∠    With nods to historic high~water marks in ambient and electroacoustic music, as well Italian minimalist pioneers like Gusto Pio, Lino Capra Vaccina, and Francesco Messina + Raul Lovisoni, Cantu~Ledesma delves forward with one of his most ambitious, elegant, and exciting endeavors of his career, retaining every bit of the ease and openness in musical language which has guided him across the decades. A beautiful, immersive, melancholic, and contemplative balm for the troubled times in which it was made.
→    Over a lengthy career arc, Jefre Cantu~Ledesma has explored various facets of ambient music, ranging from the bleary shoegaze distortion of his 2010 debut, Love Is a Stream, to experiments with heavily processed beats and underwater pop melodies on later works like 2017’s On the Echoing Green. Tracing Back the Radiance takes a sharp turn away from all earlier approaches, with Cantu~Ledesma and a host of collaborators creating an album of painstakingly detailed minimalistic beauty. Made up of two long pieces bridged by the relatively shorter “Joy,” the album is an electro~acoustic take on ambient sound, with live flute, harp, voice, vibraphone, piano, and other elements all being processed electronically by Cantu~Ledesma. Unlike the rolling clouds of reverb and synth drones that grace many albums with the ambient tag, Tracing Back the Radiance is an organic piece with a sharply maintained balance between live instrumentation and ethereal electronics.
→    Opening track “Palace of Time” lingers in subdued melancholy for over 20 minutes, patiently introducing new sounds and letting them fade as others take their place. The scrape of a violin string, floating piano notes, rhythmless drum hits, and moments of phasing electronics all rise up and recede like calm waves on a beach. “Joy” begins with a vibraphone figure and haunted bass clarinet notes. The song never builds as much as it opens up, soft ambience and twinkling music~box tones swelling as other elements fade. Tracing Back the Radiance offers a muted take on the sharpness of musique concrète by deftly arranging a wide palette of instruments into something unified. The hovering title track even places pedal steel guitar licks into an unlikely ambient context, lacing the occasional notes into a web of sustained tone clusters.
→    The immersive album is some of Cantu~Ledesma’s best work and speaks to the versatility of his expression. Though it’s unlike anything he has attempted before, the ambitious sounds of Tracing Back the Radiance still bear the distinctive stamp of his artistry, one that feels restless, nostalgic, and quietly hopeful regardless of the form it takes.
By Evan Lilly / 08 JULY 2019, 01:00 BST / Score: 8.5
→    Coming off last year’s collaborative sophomore LP with Félicia Atkinson, Limpid as the Solitudes, alongside his minor role for the yet~to~be released Moon Diagrams mini LP, Trappy Bats, Jefre Cantu~Ledesma returns with his third run for the Brooklyn~based label, Mexican Summer, Tracing Back the Radiance. More on: