Sand Box, from pianist Joe Parillo and cellist Christine Harrington, is perfect music for curling up next to a fireplace with your lover. It's undistractingly passionate, relentlessly comfortable and excessively warm, and it luxuriates in a melancholy stemming from no audible struggle-the kind of melancholy that sounds really silly when you're without company and listening to the album.
Some of the song titles foretell this disappointment: "A Prayer on Angel's Wings," "Once Upon a Time" and "DayDream," with its cloying midword capitalization. But, frustratingly, Parillo and Harrington sometimes show they can do more than just play it easy. "A Prayer on Angel's Wings" has a middle section that starts out grippingly mysterious, with furtive, nearly subliminal cello drones accompanying ruminating melodic development in the piano. But they keep it up for way too long, descending into monotony, and then move back into the sugar sweet of the movement's opening.
"Manic" should serve as an edgy chaser for the stuff surrounding it, except that Parillo and Harrington make the same sweet sounds with their instruments as they do on "DayDream" and "Once Upon a Time"; without the sense of attack that harsher tones could provide, the piece goes nowhere.
The last two tracks, "Filling in the Blanks" and "Say Goodnight," feature Thelonious Monk-inspired rhythms and massive dissonances, respectively, that are actually jarring after 10 tracks of blandness. But by then, you've either gone to another room with your lover, or you've turned off this album.