Waters of Eden
Tony Levin, the legendary bassist of King Crimson who has also anchored such art-rock luminaries as Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp, offers a look at his own complex musical canvases on Waters of Eden (Narada 70876-15224-2-6; 54:37). Not surprisingly, considering the company he's kept over the years, composer Levin crafts meticulously layered, complex works encompassing a range of influences, from the tribal-drum tension of "Pillar of Fire" to the ambient, jarring "Bone & Flesh," which builds and develops in unexpected directions. No one quite captures the emotion inherent in a singing, resonant bass tone like Levin, who utilizes the unique voice as the emotional center of the graceful, hauntingly wistful "Belle," and the elegant "Boulevard of Dreams," which builds on a straightahead piano figure. Levin's bass can convey disappointment, nostalgia, rhapsody and mystery in a single turn of the phrase. He takes advantage of that versatility on pieces ranging from the keyboard pulsing, suspense-filled "Icarus," full of longing and foreboding, to the brash, distorted rock-funk hooks of "Gecko Walk." "Utopia" is a full-blown epic-rock charged, constantly evolving and finally, uplifting-but the album's most telling highlight may be its stirring, awe-struck title track, with a circular piano figure and long-bowed cello setting up Levin's deceptively simple melody. Throughout, Levin chooses his colors carefully and deliberately, providing immense rewards for the attentive listener.