We’ve had vaccines for a year now, but the lockdown albums continue to rain on us. The jury’s out on how well they’ll age, but tasteful, introverted works like Brad Mehldau’s Suite: April 2020 and Champian Fulton’s Live from Lockdown will probably lead the pack. Add Journeys vol. 1, the meditative new album by vibraphonist Chris Dingman, to the list.
Journeys Vol. 1 isn’t just a lockdown record, but a grief record—which gives it all the more punch. Back in 2018, while his father lay dying in hospice, Dingman improvised vibraphone music to soothe his anguish, which he recorded right there and then for 2020’s five-hour Peace. Now, we have its follow-up, which Dingman compiled from dispatches to newsletter and Bandcamp subscribers.
Dingman cites everything from advice from trumpeter Terence Blanchard to the 2020 racial protests as inspiration for Journeys Vol. 1, but what comes out is abstract by design: It’s all a gleaming, undulating wash suitable for meditation or quiet time. Not a bad thing; give it a whirl after your next spin of Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders’ Promises.
Whenever COVID recedes into the rearview, will Journeys Vol. 1 warrant repeat communion? That’s for you to decide. For now, let it work out the knots in your brain as needed. When understood as a man’s sojourn through his emotions rather than a pandemic project, the music goes from merely pretty to genuinely arresting.