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Richard Leo Johnson Trio: Poetry of Appliance

There’s no denying the distinct New Age sound of Richard Leo Johnson Trio’s Poetry of Appliance (Cuneiform). From the beginning, “Highway 420 Revisited,” guitarist Johnson finger-picks a hypnotic groove for Ricardo Ochoa’s violin and Andrew Ripley’s synthesizer to utter shapeless melodies and create ominous sonics worthy of backing any number of Sci Fi Channel adventures. As things progress Johnson pushes the band between sparse and dense, richly textured passages, with Ochoa sometimes manipulating a Theremin and Ripley occasionally blowing a melodica or tweaking a resonant filter device-both get credit for rarely letting the wackier capabilities of their instruments come to light. There are cases, such as in “Glide Path,” where Ochoa could have been reeled in to avoid comparisons to the lightweight music of a Dave Matthews Band jam, and Johnson, who has interesting harmonic ideas, could have varied the rhythms to create a more dynamic listen. Still, as New Age goes, this is nicely dark stuff.

Originally Published