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Cliff Sarde: Smoke n’ Function

Speaking of smokin’, Smoke ‘n Function (Mesa/Atlantic 92821-2; 46:34) heads for the opposite side of the contemporary spectrum, with an intriguing mix of densely packed electronics, haunted woodwinds and surprising, elemental samples. To compare these sonic paintings, crafted and performed by multi-instrumentalist Cliff Sarde, to Deep Forest, Enigma or other new age/modern synth fests wouldn’t be fair. Sarde uses the texture of the music to soothe, heal and transport-on “Mikaela’s Song” he creates a” warm, blanketed feel through revolving guitar motion and a romantic sax lead, augmented by the historic quality of the flute and some Ry Cooder-styled guitar licks. “Native Groove” swirls with its impossible layers of percussion and chant samples into a dark and meditative tone, and “Smoke” e” draws you in with funky bass and electronic strings, then whirls its breezy sax line all around the listening space. Although not of the tightly constructed “song” mode that many listeners are used to, this well-produced effort is a sonic marvel, holding layers of intrigue and mystery for those willing to take the leap.

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