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Cobalt Blue

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Album Review

Recorded in collaboration with luminaries including Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, Cobalt Blue possesses a depth and complexity which standard ambient recordings lack. Much more than a mere showcase for the technical wizardry of Michael Brook's signature "infinite guitar" sound, the album absorbs a vast range of influences spanning from Middle Eastern rhythms to spaghetti western soundtracks to forge a series of shimmering dreamscapes as provocative as they are evocative.

Customer Reviews

truly classic!

I bought this CD in 1992 because I was a little nutzoid for all things 4AD (Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Dif Juz, etc.), and because the album's graphics were so darn cool. I think I'd read a little bit about it too in some guitar magazine, or perhaps the long-gone Tower Records' in-house magazine ("Pulse?"). Anyway, long story short, this recording is absolutely *awesome*. It's entirely in a class all its own. By today's genre standards, it might be considered "post-rock" peppered with ambient washes and, courtesy of the "infinite guitar" Brook invented and gave to The Edge, echoes of "Joshua Tree"-era U2. It's vaguely similar to Jon Hassell's "Fourth World' music too. Essentially, I loved this recording the first time I ever heard it, when I was in high school, and it's remained one of my favorite pieces of recorded music since then. Sixteen years later I still love it. It's pure poetry, plain and simple. Melancholy at times, reverb and delay-drenched, with Floydian atmospheres, all without being at all derivative of anything else. It's really like no other recording you've heard, even if you have Brook's Realworld projects (I recommend NFA Khan's "Night Song" as well!). In this age of ITunes, I recommend you at least buy "Urbana," the rocking-est track on the album. You will not regret this!

Stunning

Stunning, thoughtful, introspective, subtle, instrumental music. I have had this album since it came out, listen to it at least once a week, and never tire of it. Haunting and beautiful melodic fragments, and a masterful sense of texture and mood. Highest recommendation.

Interesting but Limited

This entire disc sounds like Brook's audition for soundtrack work. Brook has a great reputation as an artist and it's easy to see why from this album. Unfortunately, Brook almost never develops a theme and has a frustrating habit of coming up with a brilliant musical idea near the end of a composition, but invariably fails to build on it or follow it up. Evidently, he's done this his entire career as his compositions often occupy only a minute or two on most of his later records. This is great for soundtracks (for which he's been quite prolific and successful) but not so great for steady listening. He is not much for consistently satisfying listeners. The best tracks here, which are worth buying on their own, are "Shona Bridge" and "Urbana."

Unfortunately, Brook's musical talents do not extend to composition and song structure. His guitar technique is limited to brilliant mixing, use of effects and a distinct tonal palette, but there's very little here to indicate that he actually has a lot of playing technique. It's pretty much all smoke and mirrors - but what pretty mirrors they are! He is clearly sui generis and an influence on many musicians, but this is not the same as saying he is a musical genius. Much of this disc is simply boring and lacking in substance.

Biography

Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The innovative guitarist and producer Michael Brook was born and raised in Toronto. While studying electronic music and the arts at the University of Toronto, he met trumpeter Jon Hassell, with whom he later toured; through Hassell, Brook also was introduced to minimalist composer LaMonte Young, under whom he studied Indian music. A period working as the house engineer at producer Daniel Lanois' famed Grant Avenue recording studio led to a tenure playing guitar with the Canadian pop band Martha &...
Full Bio

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