Where There Is Light

Carl Weingarten / Catherine Marie Charlton

Where There Is Light

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FINALIST - "Best Ambient Album" - OWMR Music Awards

About Where There Is Light

Tracks:

1   Attunement

2   Where There Is Light

3   Refuge

4   5am

5   Space Race

6   Comfort In Silence

7   September Coming

8   Arabow

Steinway performing artist Catherine Marie Charlton and renowned guitarist & producer Carl Weingarten have joined to produce a new work of intimate nocturnal compositions with their premiere release WHERE THERE IS LIGHT, on Spotted Peccary Music. This electro-acoustic foray into the world of spatial ambient music sensitively merges distinct musical paths of these established, prolific artists culminating in an experience where guitar, electronic manipulations and acoustic piano share a series of late night melodic conversations.

Despite any differences the two have experienced on their extensive journeys in contemporary instrumental music, Weingarten and Charlton share a common passion for spaciousness in music – heard in Weingarten’s trademark atmospheric sound and Charlton’s recordings of extended ambient solo piano improvisations.

Charlton has focused on acoustic music, centering on her skills with the improvisational form, and exploring the sonorities of the piano through European jazz and classical crossover new age music. Weingarten, best known for his use of the slide guitar and Dobro, has recorded numerous solo and collaborative instrumental albums in rock, jazz, ambient and world music settings. Together they have blended their well-honed techniques into a powerfully subtle, transcendent expression of ambient that is part acoustic, part processed guitar, reminiscent of Michael Brook and Brian Eno’s ambient works, such as his celebrated Music for Airports.

The organic approach to their exploration into the ambient form is very much a source for their inspiration. “There are few instruments as distinctive and organic as an acoustic piano,” Weingarten points out. “It would have been easy just to play guitar fills, but I wanted something different. After all, the whole point of collaboration is not for two artists to combine the familiar, but instead to create work that’s completely fresh to both artists.”

While most of his sounds were produced with electric guitar, Weingarten wanted a more live acoustic feel for his contribution to the project. “I miked everything, even the guitar amp, to avoid purely synthetic sounds. The piano is a breathing instrument, so all the sounds, even the electronic tones, had to resonate within the same acoustic space. My favorite moments are when guitar and piano are playing in unison, and together, sound like one instrument.” Charlton adds: “Knowing that I was leaving room for Carl’s beautiful cradles of sounds allowed me to enter expansive, meditative states while playing.  It was nourishing for me to allow these pieces to flow in the nighttime stillness during a time of my life I was surrounded by daytime stresses of mothering young children and endless to-do’s for my own solo music projects.” This conversation that these two veteran artists bring to the project cements the very fundamental concepts of ambient music, and the essence of WHERE THERE IS LIGHT.

Reviews

There have been a great number of instrumental albums featuring piano and guitar, but none feel as heartfelt and well-executed as Where There Is Light (42’44”). The duo of electric guitarist Carl Weingarten and pianist Catherine Marie Charlton present the world with music meant to fill the air with more than mere sonic perfume. While lesser musicians tend to oversimplify their subject, Where There Is Light provides eight open, thoughtful, honest, wandering explorations of harmony and melody – rendered ever so fragile by metal strings and wooden keys. The drama and shifts in tone are firmly in the control of the musicians. Listening to this album, as each track opens, breathes and develops, the listener will feel as though they are being confided in by Weingarten and Charlton – with some intimacy meant just for us. Their stirring rhapsody of notes, and pauses, sustaining tones, and slow snaking leads, tells, better than any string of words, of blue feelings and emotional states. Weingarten plucks, holds, strums and loops his electrical timbres in perfect placement around Charlton’s elegant piano touches, dabs and strokes. While the clean, clear sounds of the grand resound into reverberant space, subtly driven swells emerge to augment the expression of the passage – yet just as easily, these emanations will draw us away from the recognizable, and into brief dark ideas. At times forceful and dynamic, somehow Where There Is Light never descends into exaggeration. Each beautiful composition feels as though it is an extension of some aspect of the musician’s inner life, meant for us to examine and feel their mood, and to perhaps better understand our own. Sometimes, the most powerful works are those sent to us in a whisper.

- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End

Once upon a time, there was a guitar, a very beautiful guitar, and a piano, a very nostalgic piano, which decided to defy all etiquettes in order to unite their contrasts in a surprising musical duel. “Where there is Light” is the last audaciousness of Spotted Peccary. Audaciousness because the legendary American label gets off the beaten track with an album which challenges the borders of a musical genre with a more classic approach which fights for offering its short melodies in the scarlet shadows of a guitar and of its electronic effects. Catherine Marie Charlton protects here jealously her meditative notes and her short skillfully scattered melodies, that she has created and makes glittering on her Steinway, from the bites of a very intuitive slide guitar. Carl Weingarten as for him makes float his shadows and his sibylline guitar layers with a tenderness all dressed in black with a slide guitar as incisive as that of Steve Howe. Both artists so join their thoughts melted in music in a so meditative album as leads us to forget time.

This interesting rendezvous starts with a note of dark piano of which the fall provokes a large ray of reverberations to welcome some other finer notes which fall such as grains on the meditations of a shadow which persists with a slow morphic movement. Catherine Marie Charlton defies this shade and throws tears from her Steinway which tinkle like pearls of solitude while Carl Weingarten persists in dragging out a guitar wave which sounds as that of a synth. Then follows a surprising hyper melancholic and floating ballet where the piano and its crepuscular notes becomes the fellow traveller of a slide guitar and its tears which grind our soul. "Attunement" throws the patterns of a very beautiful album that nobody expected because of its improbable piano/guitar duel. The title-track is the first nugget of emotions which decorates the parameters of “Where there is Light”. Soft, the piano spreads a bed of meditative pearls with a nostalgic melody which scatters its notes on the thoughts of a six acoustic strings and the groans of a slide guitar always so vampiric. The line of bass which crawls as a wildcat fawn lying in wait does very Patrick O'Hearn. "Refuge" highlights more Carl Weingarten's guitar on a music which tortures its ambiences as the seconds pass. Carl Weingarten weaves beautiful solos of electric guitar, as well as these intrusive layers which cross the 43 minutes of “Where there is Light”, while the piano is sometimes soft and sometimes choleric. "5 AM" highlights more the very meditative piano of Catherine Marie Charlton. The chords are heavy and reflect this feeling of powerlessness which eats away at the anger of the sleepless minds. More discreet, the guitar throws waves which are lying about as vapor of ether and organizes a festival of ethereal loops which seem to run for the infinity. After these almost 8 minutes of night-meditation, "Space Race" acts as an electric shock. The guitar injects a series of panting loops which run nervously in the background while the piano, totally disconnected from this decoration of race, develops a plan to stay in its pattern of contemplative nostalgia. Very active, the guitar feeds its loops which are sometimes passive and at other moments more aggressive, while letting wander floating tears or some long dying wah-wah. "Comfort in Silence" brings us back to these ambient settings of “Where there is Light”, with a peaceful duel piano/guitar. Sometimes quiet and sometimes intense, the music flows as a spring water on a planet not far from our imagination. "September Coming" offers a structure as slow as that of "5 AM". Except that here it’s the slide guitar which roars as that of Steve Howe in the pre Soon from Gates of Delirium. A slide guitar which offers a structure more Jazz and Lounge in "Arabow". It’s another track to dream without wanting to sleep which ends one of the most interesting discoveries this year. And if we have only one album to get in 2016 in the field of ambient and meditative music, put your money on this surprising and fascinating album of Weingarten and Charlton; “Where there is Light”!

- Sylvain Lupari, Synth & Sequences

Now this is something- a collaboration between guitarist Carl Weingarten and (Steinway) pianist Catherine Marie Charlton in an ambient excursion titled 'Where There is Light'. Not only a guitarist and a photographer but also the founder of Multiphase Records and the short-lived 80's band Delay Tactics, Weingarten employs acoustic and electric guitars, dobro, loops, delay and effects on this recording. Charlton has released numerous solo piano albums since 2000, some of them award-winning. If you're expecting this to sound like some Harold Budd/Robert Fripp collaboration it isn't exactly that, but in places you might be tempted to think so. For one thing, Weingarten's guitar style is different than Fripp's and more understated here. Charlton's piano is more impactful and not gauzy and submerged like Budd's, yet much attention given to spatiality. There is also the addition of Windham Hill house bassist Michael Manring in places, a seasoned musician quite adept at this kind of collaboration who supports and fortifies the ambiance rather than detracts from it. Throughout the eight tracks on the album there is a pervasive aura of melancholy, but it's a beautiful sort of melancholy that puts one in a reflective mood. These artists seem to mesh perfectly combining their talents in an improvisational tapestry that is simultaneously unobtrusive yet engaging; a real delight to experience. I think this team will find much favor among electro-acoustic ambient enthusiasts and hopefully more will be forthcoming from them.

- Steve Mecca, Chain D.L.K.

This appropriately titled collaboration between guitarist Carl Weingarten and improvisational pianist Catherine Marie Charlton is at once expressive, transcendent and organic, bringing together the best of both artists in a complimentary, ambient and subtly dreamlike experience. Charlton, with close to ten releases of improvisational piano in her solo catalog, performs exclusively on a Steinway B acoustic here, punctuating bursts of melodic richness with spacious studio ambience, often vaguely hinting of classical impressionist and jazz elements, but folding those influences into something she can call her own. Weingarten has literally dozens of releases, probably even more if one counts the collaborations with other artists and early endeavors with his band Delay Tactics. While he is a master of ambient electric guitar stylings, enhanced by looping and eBow techniques, here he has masterfully cast his style into a sea of acoustic studio ambience to match the sonic environment of Charlton’s piano, carefully enveloping and caressing her notes with a warm blanket of processed electric guitar. At other times, it’s Weingarten who is in the driver’s seat with Charlton’s piano power strengthening the structures and bottom end. And speaking of bottom end, Michael Manring provides superb fretless bass accompaniment on two of the album’s eight tracks. Clearly this is something new for Charlon and Weingarten that marks a foray into new sonic territory for both.

- Peter Thelen, Exposé

It wouldn't be inaccurate to call what Carl Weingarten and Catherine Marie Charlton are doing on this collaborative venture electroacoustic, but on the other hand, given the connotations the label presently holds, it could be a tad misleading. In their case, electroacoustic stands for a marriage that's more literally realized between acoustic and electric sounds as opposed to something where extreme electronic experimentalism is involved; further to that, the kind of material performed by the duo isn't radically experimental but rather heavily atmospheric ambient music executed in real time.

On Where There Is Light, the duo's premiere release, Charlton's Steinway piano merges with Weingarten's electric guitar for eight late-night explorations. With two musicians conversing as deeply as they do here, the results can't help but feel intimate, even if two tracks also include renowned fretless bassist Michael Manring. The sonic palette expands considerably courtesy of Weingarten, who's credited with acoustic and electric slide guitars, dobro, loops, delays, and effects on the release. Still, as integral to the forty-three-minute recording as those treatments no doubt are, Where There Is Light primarily registers for its interactions between Charlton's piano and Weingarten's guitar. In those places where treatments are applied, they're often woven so subtly into the presentation they verge on subliminal. That's not always the case, however, as the guitarist's extensive use of effects on “5am” largely transforms the instrument into a texture-generating mechanism. Regardless of the differences in instrumental design, the settings share an elegiac quality befitting the kinds of reflections one tends to have at the center of a long, sleepless night.

During the aptly titled “Attunement,” Charlton's refined playing effortlessly bridges classical, ambient, and New Age realms, while at the same time serving as a sympathetic partner to Weingarten's sombre extemporizations, the tone of his playing and the sharpness of the attack vaguely suggestive of a young Mike Oldfield, the one who played on David Bedford's Star's End, for example; one would be forgiven for thinking of Michael Brook, too, when Weingarten contributes such texturally rich treatments to “Space Race.” The addition of Manring's fretless bass to “Where There is Light” adds dramatically to the presentation, so much so that, as satisfying as the duo performances are, the inclusion of the bassist on more than two tracks wouldn't have been unwelcome. There's much to recommend about the recording, from the intimacy of the musicians' interactions to the fundamental contrast in timbre between their instruments. Adding to that considerably is not only the ruminative, nocturnal tone of the pieces, but the feeling of spontaneity that arises when material is created in real time, as seems to be the case here.

- Ron Schepper, Textura.org