new releases
John Luther Adams

The Wind in High Places


A WQXR Q2 Music "Album of the Week" 2015

A Textura "Album of the Month" 2015

John Luther Adams’s carefully shaped, gracefully stirring pieces on this album seem to alter common notions of musical time and unfold in a temporal space of their own creation, as do so many of Adams’s works.

Beautiful, vaporous string music, featuring the acclaimed JACK Quartet performing the three-movement The Wind in High Places and Dream of the Canyon Wren (Adams's first two works written solely for string quartet) and the Northwestern Cello Ensemble, directed by Hans Jensen, performing the four-movement cello choir work Canticles of the Sky.

Cold Blue has released four previous CDs devoted to 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Adams's music, and shorter works of his have appeared on two of the label's anthology releases. (More info ...)

"John Luther Adams creates music that is more than just imaginative. At times it is pure magic.... This is a beautiful recording with music that enchants. John Luther Adams gives us some of his most intimate music on this one. It communicates directly and with sublimity."— Grego Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

"Most of the dazzling oeuvre of Alaskan composer John Luther Adams is inspired by and informed by nature, and the three recent works on this excellent album are no exception."—Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

"The album’s thought is evident without being distracting.... The skilled fusion of the JACK Quartet turns The Wind into something other than a three-movement work. It’s like watching something take flight and, as the final notes fade, blend in with the sky."—Q2 Music (WQXR)

"The Wind in High Places, a striking new album of austere landscapes and mysterious light." — Tom Huizenga, Deceptive Cadence, NPR

John Luther Adams wrote: ‘That’s been my lifelong obsession… Place as Music. And Music as Place.’ The Wind in High Places is compelling evidence of just how completely he has succeeded." —Paul Muller, Sequenza21

"The Wind in High Places, like much of Adams' writing, inhabits its own unique, atemporal sphere."—Textura

"The Wind in High Places, a tripartite piece for string quartet that uses only natural harmonics and open strings – played extremely quietly – to create a still, pastoral ambience.... Could any new music be more delicately sparse, more wonderfully poetic? I think not." —John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"Adams's major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music." —Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"The music of John Luther Adams is simply beautiful. It has a crystalline quality and a peaceful character that evoke the Arctic life. . . . Adams’ music sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to." —All-Music Guide

Daniel Lentz

In the Sea of Ionia


This album’s often gorgeous, often kaleidoscopically bright and bustling pieces by quintessential California composer Lentz freely explore and skew two centuries of classical piano music. All the piano parts on this recording—from solo to seven pianos (via overdubbing)—are performed by Grammy-nominated new-music pianist Aron Kallay.

Cold Blue has released three previous CDs devoted to Lentz's music, and shorter works of his have appeared on four of the label's anthology releases. (More info ...)

"Speaking broadly, composer Daniel Lentz is deemed a kind of maverick ‘Minimalist,’ West Coast division. But as is often the case, subtleties of an artist’s voice can get glossed over in the simplifying process of ‘general deeming.’ Let’s just say he broaches sonic beauty and Minimalist-colored/rhythmicized ideas, but on his own terms…. [H]e has plenty to say, with four pieces penned within the last seven years, and a sensitive, sturdy ally in pianist Mr. Kallay…on a brand-new album, In the Sea of Ionia…. With a vocabulary borrowing from influences as varied as Ravel, Brian Wilson and Bill Evans, Mr. Lentz's music is not as pretty as it might sound—or is not ‘only’ pretty. Ulterior strategies are afoot. Sentimentality grazes past and is hustled into new shapes, in a place where lyricism is served on the rocks." —Josef Woodard, Santa Barbara News-Press

"Daniel Lentz has been composing and releasing music for many decades, yet the music he's creating today is as vital as anything produced in the past. While his omnivorous output ranges from the wildly exuberant to the preternaturally calm, it’s always infused with the joy of music-making and the creative spirit." —Textura

"When it comes to attempts at musical seduction, Daniel Lentz's music is way out in front." —Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

"By intriguing his listeners at the same time he wreathes them in smiles, Lentz always comes up with something listenable and worthwhile." —Gramophone

"Lentz's music inhabits what he terms a musical 'state of becoming,' where both new and reappearing musical and textual fragments are fused through complex layering processes. However, the real basis of his seductive music may be the dreamy impressionism of Debussy and the lyrical voice and keyboard interaction of Schubert's lieder." — John Schaefer, New Sounds, WNYC

"Lentz's work 'chortles' in ways both sensual and intellectual." —Los Angeles Reader

"Daniel Lentz’s work, with its … glossy, Pop Art-Southern California palette of colors … seems to reveal new facets with each encounter." —Dusted magazine

recent releases
Michael Jon Fink

From a Folio

CD single/EP [18 mins.] CB0039

A darkly sublime suite of seven new pieces for cello and piano performed by composer Fink and noted new-music cellist Derek Stein. As the music unfolds, the listener is drawn into a highly nuanced, lyrical sound world. Fink’s characteristically reductive but expressive style is evident throughout, as the set’s quiet intensity builds to a muted ecstasy and then returns to a more serene state.

Fink’s music has been described by the Los Angeles Times as "lustrous" and "metaphysically tinged." the LA Weekly has written that Fink’s music is "of ethereal simplicity...refined...spare...distinctly his own." His music has appeared on seven previous Cold Blue CDs. Derek Stein is a member of the renowned Los Angeles new music groups wild Up and gnarwhallaby. (More info ...)

"From a Folio is the perfect title for this CD. Each piece is one of a series of brilliant jewels as if cut from the same stone. From a Folio by Michael Jon Fink is music that is simple, yet essential—an elegant vessel of deep expression."—Paul Muller, Sequenza21

"it’s beautiful, it’s sad, yet it’s full of hope. It’s music like this the world needs."—Vital Weekly (Netherlands)

"I have come to love this music for a number of reasons. There is a deliberateness along with an expressive depictiveness. Nothing is what it seems at first, and yet it does not change from listen to listen. You do. Thank you Derek Stein, cello, and Maestro Fink, piano, for these beautiful performances. And Maestro Fink for the considered musical vision. Very recommended."
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

"It’s quite haunting." —La Folia

"From a Folio is a work as typically Cold Blue as they come: misleadingly simple, and gorgeous like contemporary music has no business to be."—François Couture, Monsieur Délire’s Listening Diary

"This is an exceptional collection of vignettes conveying a single serene experience." — Exposé

"The confirmed as a master of sensitivity and good taste. In his personal interpretation of historical minimalism, there is a warmth, a presence and a deep involvement, which is extremely rare."—Sands-Zine (Italy)

"Michael Jon Fink—operating within New Music but sidestepping much of its systematic, lab-dulled pretention...There's something of Gavin Bryars' evanescent emotional skill to Fink's music, something of the soft spatial blur of the Evanses (Bill and Gil) ... what gets me every time is its sheer and honest beauty."—Misfit City (UK)

Thomas Newman and Rick Cox

35 Whirlpools Below Sound


A richly detailed, haunting set of 19 electro-acoustic soundscapes jointly composed by composer-performers Newman and Cox, 35 Whirlpools... was developed and realized during the 25-plus years that the two have worked as musical collaborators. This is both enigmatic and eclectic music that explores a somewhat improvisational world through its series of sometimes interlinked, sometimes contrasting pieces built of often mysterious and fantastical juxtapositions of sounds.

Newman is a well-known and highly regarded film-music composer who has also written non-film-related works for such ensembles as the Kronos Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (Newman has performed Cox's music on two previous Cold Blue CDs.) Cox, who has collaborated and recorded with Jon Hassell, Thomas Newman, Ry Cooder, Peter Freeman, Chas Smith, and many others, has had a his music released on seven previous Cold Blue CDs. (More info ...)

"Throughout the hour-long release, wondrous, fairy tale-like dreamscapes rub shoulders with murky ambient-drone evocations that rumble with mysterious portent.... it offers no shortage of stimulation and surprise."—Textura

"[D]efinitely consider picking up this recording by composers and multi-instrumentalists Thomas Newman and Rick Cox…. [T]hey’ve created an eerie and fascinating soundscape that will be pretty much unlike anything else you’ve heard before ." —CD HotList: New Releases for Libraries

"Newman and Cox have been longtime collaborators, and on this nineteen-track album, they have put together some utterly compelling work. These soundscapes are an intriguing blend, sounding like something from a subterranean orchestra, mixed with hints of ambient and experimental music, all wrapped up in a beautiful eeriness. 35 Whirlpools Below Sound is a distinctive effort." —IndieWire

"There are 19 short distinct pieces here that work together as a complete aural journey through mysterious subconscious spaces.... This is one of those discs that one could easily play around the clock.... Excuse me while I hit the repeat button again." ——Exposé magazine

"Electro-acoustic works that are intriguingly experimental and richly varied…. 35 Whirlpools Below Sound is impressive…a skillfully realized work that takes us to places we have only dreamed of, using sounds that work on our imagination in new and exciting ways." —Paul Muller, New Classic LA

"Sometimes it sounds like a processed orchestra, then purely musique concrete, followed by a bit ambience. Excellent!"—Vital Weekly (Netherlands)

"[Cox's] enveloping harmonies are less innocent than they first appear. Prettiness with a tough core." —The Wire

"Rick is a hidden master of the crepuscular and the diaphanous." —Ry Cooder

"Newman's writing is comfortable in many worlds."—Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

"[Newman is] a versatile talent...fond of experimentation.... The result is distinctive, often haunting music that can be lush and melodic or stark and edgy." —Los Angeles Times

previous releases
Stephen Whittington

Music for Airport Furniture

CD single/EP [23 mins.] CB0038

Australian composer Whittington's subtle, sublime, and beautiful work for string quartet alludes to Erik Satie’s "furniture music" (musique d’ameublement). The composer writes, "I was interested in the airport departure lounge as an arena for human emotions—boredom, apprehension, hope, despair, loneliness, the tenderness of farewells—all taking place within a bland, often desolate space." Premiered at Psychadelic Rays of Sound festival. Recorded by the Zephyr Quartet, an award-winning Australian ensemble dedicated to the performance of contemporary music. (More info ...)

"Music for Airport Fumiture…a taut, refined, barely evolving piece."—Roger Thomas, Int’l Record Review

"Belying its Satie-esque title, this work unravels to reveal a music of sheer elegance and eloquence." —Peter Garland

"Luxurious and comfortable, I could sit and listen to Music for Airport Furniture for hours." —Richard Friedman, Music from Other Minds (KALW, San Francisco)

"Music for Airport Furniture is open and airy, contrails elegantly criss-crossing a sky-blue background. Ever elevating, the viola sighs, the cello is occasionally plucked, an impatient passenger shuffling his feet. A beautiful piece."—Stephen Fruitman, Avant Music News

"[T]he opening notes of Music for Airport Furniture evoke that distinctive feeling of emptiness and regret that we have all felt while waiting for an airline boarding call. The music proceeds in a series of long, warm phrases, offset by the occasional pizzicato arpeggio in the cello. The minimalist texture is both smooth and luxurious and the sustained chords deftly unpack all the many emotions that accompany an extended absence from home and loved ones. The playing of the Zephyr Quartet is outstanding, investing just the right emotional content into each extended phrase and never letting the long tones stagnate…. Music for Airport Furniture is a masterful realization of the bittersweet sadness of farewell."—Paul H. Muller, Sequenza21
Jim Fox

Black Water

CD single/EP [18 mins.] CB0037

This boisterously churning music for three pianos is rich with dense, sometimes shimmering, sometimes rumbling tremolos set off by moments of light, twinkling quietude. (Written in 1984, and premiered the following year at the New Music America festival, its title was taken from an Alberto Manguel-edited collection of short stories.) All three parts are performed by noted Los Angeles pianist Bryan Pezzone, who has appeared on more than a half dozen earlier Cold Blue releases. (More info ...)

"Jim Fox is a singular composer. His music is deep, sparkling, ecstatic, and breathaking." —John Luther Adams

"A nearly relentless shimmering movement that explores the full range of the keyboard. When the lines do linger a bit in a particular area of tranquility, the mood easily turns reflective, but the bulk of Pezzone’s work across the three piano parts keeps ears pulled forward, the notes a school of silvery fish rapidly outpacing any ominous predators floating in the shadows…. "—Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox

"Driven alternately by furious staccato passages, strident chords and assertive arpeggios with the occasional oasis of restraint ('tranquility' doesn't cut it), [Black Water] is an energetic whirlwind of a piece that captures and holds the attention." —Roger Thomas, Int’l Record Review

"Black Water is a real torrent—always moving forward. It's very exciting to be taken up by its tide." —Richard Friedman, Music from Other Minds (KALW, San Francisco)

"Powerful, present music. Excellent work."—Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

"Black Water begins with an extended trill setting an energetic pace that builds with each successive wave of notes. There is a sense of strong, fluid motion that is slightly out of control—like a running sea in the dark. The notes roil around each of the piano parts, building in intensity and then setting off again without quite discharging the tension.… Black Water proceeds in this fashion—strong surges interspersed with quieter sections—but always with a sense of movement in the lower registers. This is exciting music, carrying the listener along in unexpected directions. … The final crashing chord hangs in the air, slowly dissipating, to provide a fitting end to this high-powered work. [Pianist] Bryan Pezzone has done a fine job here."—Paul H. Muller, Sequenza21
Various (Adams, Bryars, Cox, Fink, Fox, Garland, Lentz, Marshall, Miller, Polansky, Rosenboom, Schroeder, Smith, Tenney)

Cold Blue Two


A WQXR Q2 Music "Album of the Week" 2012

Cold Blue Two is an anthology of fourteen new, previously unrecorded works (many of them written just for this CD). It’s a sequel to the label’s celebrated Cold Blue (CB0008) anthology, which San Francisco’s Other Minds founder Charles Amirkanian called “a classic anthology of American new music.”

Enthralling music by John Luther Adams, Gavin Bryars, Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink, Jim Fox, Peter Garland, Daniel Lentz, Ingram Marshall, Read Miller, Larry Polansky, David Rosenboom, Phillip Schroeder, Chas Smith and James Tenney.

Performers include Sarah Cahill, Guy Klucevsek, ETHEL, Formalist Quartet, John Schneider, Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, and many other fine musicians, including a number of the composers themselves. (More info ...)

“Darkly lyrical, evocative... Whether plaintive, hypnotic, or enigmatic, this is music that is cool but not unemotional—and always a rich, twilit blue.” —John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s New Sounds

“This record pretty much kicks ass—an alluring, arresting document from a brilliant cast of composers..” —Glenn Kotche, composer and drummer for Wilco

"Stellar." —Alex Ambrose, Q2 Music producer, WQXR

"The music by Daniel Lentz that opens this anthology, a solo cello line harmonically enriched through overdubbing, is graceful, understated and tinged with melancholy. The closing piece, Jim Fox’s filmic Colorless sky became fog, shares those qualities. They seem to define a Cold Blue soundworld, although these 14 previously unissued tracks, some specially commissioned, accommodate diverse and individualistic composers…. This is a post-experimental label, presenting work that subtly channels lessons learnt from radical sources into music that is unapologetically attractive and accessible. —Julian Cowley, The Wire

"Superb… music that exemplifies refinement without at the same time being overly burdened by formality and convention." —Textura (Cold Blue Two was on Textura's "Best of 2012" list.)

"Listen closely: there is almost always a sharp edge hidden among these glistening surfaces…. The most casual listen to this haunted music-box, as often eerie or melancholy as it is soothing, is an unsettling experience, a quiet disquiet. Cold Blue the label and Cold Blue the anthologies are aptly named: cold and like a glacier or a clear winter sky, this music is as shiver-inducing as it is lovely." —Daniel Stephen Johnson, Q2 Music, WQXR

"A finely balanced and judiciously contrasted collection…a sampler that confirms the tradition of American experimental music to be alive, well and in safe hands. —Richard Whitehouse, Int’l Record Review

"This marvelous CD assembles 14 works by contemporary composers.... While many of the composers here have roots in the experimental tradition, the pieces on this disc are fiercely consonant and infused with unique orchestrations and electronic processing.... Essential!" --Gino Robair, Electronic Musician magazine

"A panoramic view of Cold Blue’s offerings, which are quite varied and yet make a powerful unified statement. These works could be described as beautiful oddities—some even devastatingly gorgeous, but always with a twist. Even if unapologetic beauty is not your cup of tea, worry not—upon close listen each one of these works sports frayed edges, chipped corners, or other subtle disturbances that turn it into a highly personal proclamation…. Many are haunting, but not at all cold or alienating; this is music for friendly ghosts. Each work contains treasures to be discovered within, and the heart-on-sleeve honesty of the works is not something one hears often." —Alexandra Gardner, NewMusicBox

Adams writes music that draws much of its inspiration from earth's primal forms and forces. These large, elemental concepts are never far below the surface of the music on Four Thousand Holes.

The two works that comprise this album—constructions that grew from a blending of process and intuition—maintain a tight focus on music's inherent sensuality. The title piece, a bold, wonderfully quirky work, amasses and blends multiple tempo streams of simple triads with electro-acoustic "auras" to create a sense of beautifully suspended time. The other piece, ...and bells remembered... for percussion quintet, spins forth a quiet and gently clangorous world of ringing tones.

Four Thousand Holes features performances by renowned performers: pianist Stephen Drury, percussionist Scott Deal, and the Callithumpian Consort. (More info ...)

"I can't stop listening to John Luther Adams's Four Thousand Holes." —Alex Ross, Twitter

Adams's major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music." —Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"His music is haunting and quite unforgettable. … Lou Harrison called Adams 'one of the few important young American composers,' and he might just be right." —MusicWeb Int'l

"Out of many eligible composers of his generation, John Luther Adams is the greatest proponent of the American experimental tradition, a lineage that includes Ives, Cowell, Varese, Partch, Nancarrow, Cage and Tenney." —Sequenza 21/Contemporary Classical Music Weekly

"The sound of this music is that of overlapping planes of sound … this is music from someone who knows who he is and what he wants." —Robert Carl, Fanfare

"Adams's music can be superficially described as the intersection of two diverse influences: Feldman and Cowell . . . his scores bear the ubiquitous marks of Cowell's multitempoed rhythmic structures . . . The Feldman influence manifests itself as a delight in delicately balanced sonorities used as recurring images." —Kyle Gann, American Music in the 20th Century (Schirmer Books)

"The music of John Luther Adams is simply beautiful. It has a crystalline quality and a peaceful character that evoke the Arctic life. . . . Adams’ music sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to." —All-Music Guide

John Luther Adams

Four Thousand Holes


This spare, beautiful, spacious 20 minutes for eight pianos was composed utilizing systems derived from sudoku puzzles and the GarageBand computer program.

Hobbs is an English experimental composer, a pioneer of British systems music., founder of the Experimental Music Catalogue, and an early member of both the Scratch Orchestra and AMM. A combination of strict rigor and audience-friendly surfaces is typical of most of his work since 1970, as is his use of cheap (toy or amateur) electronics. His music has been recorded on the Obscure Records/Editions EG, Experimental Music Catalogue, Sonic Arts Network, Advance, Matchless, and Black Box labels. As a performer, he has appeared on the Matchless, Impetus, Les Temos Modernes, and Deutsche Grammophon (in Cardew's The Great Learning) labels.

Performed by noted Los Angeles pianist Bryan Pezzone. (More info ...)

"The ever-stylish Christopher Hobbs is a master of subtle surprise. This haunting music is both strange and familiar, and balm to an alert ear and keen intelligence." —Howard Skempton

"Hobbs's Sudoku pieces, based on the newspaper puzzle, are exotically listenable and remarkably varied." —Kyle Gann, PostClassical

"[Hobbs's] quietly alluring music possesses the seemingly incidental beauty that can arise in music composed under self-enforced restraints." —Julian Cowley, The Wire

"Hobbs stylistically seems to be the most intellectually intense and thorough of all the English Experimental composers" —Peter Garland, Pieces 3

"... everyone will relish chill-out relief from the holiday madness. Christopher Hobbs’ dreamy but random Sudoku 82 ... is the perfect drug. Try it with eggnog." — Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

Christopher Hobbs

Sudoku 82

CD single [20 mins.] CB0033

Four serene yet deeply emotive pieces for solo qin (a Chinese zither-like instrument). Quiet, sparce, slightly eerie, almost Feldmanesque. Performed by the composer, who mastered the qin while living and teaching for many years in Taiwan.

Christopher Roberts is a composer/performer (double bass and qin) who is as comfortable within Western musical traditions as he is within a number of non-Western Pacific Rim musical traditions. He has a previous release on the Cold Blue label, Trios for Deep Voices (double bass trios). (More info ...)

"So Confucius walks into a bar, just in time for Bill Evans's last set, and after closing time pulls out his qin for a few solos … That’s the vibe that Christopher Roberts captures in these intimate nocturnal musings where crystalline harmonics dance among gutsy bass slides while elegant harmonies whisper their most private thoughts. A truly haunting recording." —John Schneider, Host of KPFK's "Global Village" and Director of MicroFest

"Roberts has arrived at a new American music ... something unique." —Michael J. Schumacher

"[Roberts's] music is so rich in its textures and gestures and harmonies that his voice is distinctive." —Stephen Eddins, All-Music Guide

"A short CD of modern compositions for solo qin. ... a great idea and a very nice record. Quiet, introspective, slow-unfolding pieces. ... Released in Cold Blue’s low-priced EP series." —François Couture, Monsieur Délire's Listening Diary

Christopher Roberts

Last Cicada Singing

CD single [30 mins.] CB0034

The premiere recordings of two spirited and enticing quartets that draw on the composer's well-traveled ear and great sense of personal vision. Both works move with a unique sense of grace and a sincerity of expression that is purely Garlandesque.

Performed by the celebrated British ensemble Apartment House, led by new-music cellist Anton Lukoszevieze,

For thirty years, Garland’s music has been marked by a radical consonance and a simplification of formal structure. Recordings of his music have been released on the Cold Blue, New Albion, Tzadik, Mode, Avant, Toshiba-EMI/Angel, What Next?/Nonsequitur, and Opus One labels. (More info ,,,)

"[Garland] is an avatar of an experimental American tradition ... a composer of mesmerizing music; and in many ways, the musical conscience of my generation…. Garland's work always brings increasing cognitive involvement; it is much more intricate than it sounds at first." —Kyle Gann, Chamber Music magazine

'I feel he [Garland] is one of our true originals." —Robert Carl, Fanfare

"So, Henry Cowell begat Lou Harrison and Harrison begat Peter Garland, in a manner of speaking. Each of them has been influenced by the culture, and in particular the musics, of the Pacific region, but to differing degrees. Garland's inheritance is so rich that he treats it selectively and, like Harrison and Cowell, with respect though not with undue reverence, in that the aim is to make something new of 'found' musical material as its brought into new cultural contexts. 'New' is the keyword in the previous sentence. Garland is a restless, nomadic and often (one senses) lonely individual whose work makes reference to the musics of the distant and sometimes not-so-distant lands he's visited, but his compositions exist entirely on their own terms and without a hint of pastiche or the uncomfortable feeling that cultural plunder is afoot. " —Brian Marley, Signal to Noise

"Elegantly balancing sensuous melodicism and spacious austerity of form, Peter Garland’s string quartets are alluring and inviting, their carefully-wrought complexity often hidden within a luminous transparency." —Kevin Macneil Brown, Dusted magazine

Peter Garland

String Quartets [1 & 2]


Mysteriously evocative electro-acoustic works that the composer built from short recorded moments—audio fragments—of his early music. This is not a trip down Memory Lane: In the place we began, Adams has reappropriated and transformed these sonic fragments into completely new works that speak to his current musical interests and directions, especially his recent installation pieces. (More info ...)

"This is a recording one can easily get lost in. Indeed, it's one of the most ravishing examples of electro-acoustic music I've heard in many years." —Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone

"The Place We Began ... is surely among Adams's most evocative and personal creations. … Recorded with the clarity and presence typical of Cold Blue Music." —Richard Whitehouse, Int'l Record Review

"Adams's major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music." —Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Adams's music is as hypnotic as it is different." —Colin Clark, MusicWeb Int'l

"John Luther Adams’ powerful music finds inspiration, depth of field, and sonic substance in the shapes and textures of the natural world and, most of all, in the composer’s own deep and passionate commitment to the act of listening itself. ... while Adams doesn’t necessarily sound like precursors Cage, Feldman and Oliveros, he does share with those American masters a definite commitment to the creation of unique and engaging music that springs from an experienced intensity of absolute listening." —Kevin Macneil Brown, Dusted magazine

"John Luther Adams is a great underappreciated composer who has written music of enormous beauty and sophistication while staying true to his roots as an outsider." – Bruce Taub, —Sequenza 21/Contemporary Classical Music Weekly

"The Place We Began ... includes four electro-acoustic settings that are both austere and sensual and exude a stillness that resonates throughout the recording." —Ron Schepper, Textura

John Luther Adams

the place we began


Five intimate movements/pieces for a trio of double basses performed by the composer and two other virtuosos of the instrument, Mark Morton and James Bergman.

This music, much of it inspired by the composer's life in Papua New Guinea, where he studied music's "natural prosody," subtly extends the double bass's standard playing techniques with such expressive elements as bowing patterns inspired by the sound of hornbills in flight. (More info ...)

"A magnificent piece! There's nothing like it. Roberts has a truly original voice." —Bertram Turetzky

"An elegantly reverberant, harmonically rich and gracefully delineated composition for resonant strings." —Julian Cowley, The Wire

“Roberts has arrived at a new American music by traversing the heart of Papua New Guinea ... and the result is something unique.” —Michael J. Schumacher

"Quite unusual and quite remarkable." —Richard Friedman, Producer/Host, KALW's Music from Other Minds

"A remarkable disc. ... Recommended." —Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger (Seattle)

"Trios for Deep Voices is thoughtful music, beautifully worked out, and very absorbing to listen to. It’s wonderfully individual, both in its sound and its construction. Clear some space in your life, both literally and figuratively, and give it a listen.." —Greg Sandow

"This is a visceral work ... a unique, original, refreshing, and pertinent set of truly global double bass trio music." —Bass World magazine

Christopher Roberts

Trios for Deep Voices


Nakadai, which KPFA Folio/Other Minds Radio called "one of the most explosive LPs of the '80s," is a set of works that offer a catalog of musical "waves"—from ripples to tsunamis. It features Smith playing pedal steel guitar solo, overdubbed, and with a mallet percussion quartet of Bob Fernandez, John Fitzgerald, M.B. Gordy, and Theresa Knight. This first CD reissue of Nakadai allows today's listeners to hear prototypical Smith—music composed when his present style was in its nascent state.

In addition to the original five Nakadai tracks, this release includes two "bonus" tracks: 2008's evocative Ghosts on the Windows and 1991's Joaquin Murphey, a tribute to the pedal steel elgend of the same name. (More info...)

"Intense and drony, yet luscious. A welcome reissue of microtonal pieces by this important Los Angeles-based instrument builder and pedal steel guitarist." —Electronic Musician magazine

"Long icy drones invoke a remarkable soundscape." —Richard Friedman, Producer/Host, KALW's Music from Other Minds

"With Smith's music, the sounds are as compelling as his concepts and instruments." —The Wire

"Chas Smith's pedal steel and 12 string dobro are as evocative and quintessentially American as a crackling neon light outside a desert motel at sunset." —Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

“‘A solitary genius,’ as Susan Alcorn describes him, Chas follows no particular school of composition but his own.” —Paris Transatlantic

Chas Smith



This CD combines Lentz's wild nine-piano tribute to the octave, Point Conception (originally issued as a Cold Blue LP in the mid-80s), with Lentz's previously unrecorded NightBreaker, a kaleidoscopic and explosive tour de force for four pianos.

An exciting roller-coaster of a work, NightBreaker ambles, jumps, careens, pauses, and flings itself forward. Point Conception amasses and bubbles over with incessant streams of octaves (harmonic and melodic) running the length of the keyboard. Both pieces revel in and comment on late-19th-century harmonies and harmonic motion.

Through overdubbing via a "cascading echo system," long-time Lentz Ensemble pianist Arlene Dunlap performs all of Point Conception's parts. Likewise, through overdubbing, noted Los Angeles pianist Bryon Pezzone performs all of NightBreaker's parts. (More info...)

"Lentz has devised a unique bit of piano literature. It simultaneously glorifies the acoustical grandeur of the grand piano and regales its legacy with technology and sly insouciance. Point Conception is Lentz's backhanded answer to the cool purr of ambient piano music. Such is the typical Lentz reply; tossing knuckleballs into extant musical traditions, but doing so with disarming grace."  —Los Angeles Reader

"Two absolutely gorgeous works for overdubbed acoustic pianos." —Electronic Musician magazine

"A wonderfully churning, whirling, oceanic soundscape that occasionally calls La Mer to mind." —Stephen Eddins, All-Music Guide

"Point Conception grabs you and never lets go. It has ... that peculiar "avant-garde-but-oh-so-easy-to-enjoy" feel one consistently finds in Cold Blue’s catalog." —François Couture, All-Music Guide

Point Conception ... a rollicking process piece." —Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

Daniel Lentz

Point Conception


The Webster Cycles, scored for six trombones, is at times lush, at times stark, always engaging. From moment to moment, an individual voice calls out or a crowd murmurs or a few voices unite in contrapuntal or parallel efforts. It blends the abstract with the idiomatic. Pure tones hang serenely in the air as noted trombonist and new-music champion J.A. Deane's lively ornaments and articulations acknowledge his instrument's long association with various types of jazz. 30 mins. (More info...)

"Deane is a soulfully expressive musician and, despite the calm and coolness of Peters's music, his interpretation has immediate emotional appeal as well as seductive depth." —Julian Cowley, The Wire

“The overlapping trombones heard in The Webster Cycles immerse you in 30 minutes of incantatory bliss—imagine floating into an ocean-sized harbor bounded by distant foghorns. Essential." —Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger

"Solemn and spacious ... Subtle music for late evenings." —Vital Weekly

Peters’ music … has in abundance what I miss in so much new American music: strong commitment to an aesthetic goal, and adherence to that goal without compromise. …Bring on more Steve Peters!” —Sequenza21

“Pure, restrained and rigorously beautiful.” —Alvin Curran

Steve Peters

The Webster Cycles

CD single [30 mins.] CB0027

Ecstatic, powerful music for piano(s) and percussion that combines architectural and multi-tempo/polyrhythmic processes with the composer's passion for lush surface textures. This music ties together extremes—shifting color fields and monochromatic planes; quietly shimmering textures and "noisy" roars; the wild and the constrained. (More info...)

"Adams’s major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music, the unending arguments over the relative value of Romantic and modernist languages." —Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Adams's music can be superficially described as the intersection of two diverse influences: Feldman and Cowell . . . his scores bear the ubiquitous marks of Cowell's multitempoed rhythmic structures . . . The Feldman influence manifests itself as a delight in delicately balanced sonorities used as recurring images . . . " —Kyle Gann, American Music in the 20th Century

"There’s a sense of vast, open space in John Luther Adams’s music that’s without a ready parallel among American composers." Marc Geelhoed, Time Out Chicago

John Luther Adams

Red Arc / Blue Veil


This collection of eerily beautiful, intimate music weaves naturally occurring acoustic phenomena with the playing of celebrated performers. The title piece features the breathy sounds emitted by the rock tube formations on El Hierro (westernmost of the Canary Islands) and performances by Aboriginal musician Mark Atkins and Los Angeles-based composer/trumpeter Jon Hassell, The two other works on the CD are Sevan, recorded near Lake Sevan (Armenia), featuring Armenian singer Parik Nazarian, and Coimbra 4, Mundi Theatre, a soundscape of a city-wide festival in Coimbra, Portugal. (More info...)

"I was transfixed by the haunting sounds and the poetic pacing of Fahres' music on this CD. Rather than the sound floating through the room, it was as if I was floating in the sound." —Morton Subotnick

"An exceptionally well-composed album, comprising very well-thought out concepts that have been delivered in an utmost ingenious and abstract way." —Unknown Public (UK)

"Fahres is skillful in creating drama and blending the recorded materials into intriguing, musically satisfying soundscapes. The Tubes, which lasts over 30 minutes, is an especially impressive achievement." —All-Music Guide

"This is the kind of recording that lets you get wondrously lost in someone else’s sound world." —Sequenza21

Michael Fahres

The Tubes


A Sweet Quasimodo ... is a stunning 40-minute work for two grand pianos. It was recorded live during a concert at the famed Maybeck hall in Berkeley, California, February 2006. Preceding the piece are Palestine's short spoken reminiscence of his time spent in California more than 30 years ago and a brief ritual song accompanied by the drone of a rubbed brandy snifter. (More info...)

"Palestine has a way of choosing notes so as to tremendously affect the thickness of the sound and create panoramic variety (and even microtonal anomalies) among the overtone masses he is creating, sort of a one-man acoustic Glenn Branca symphony." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"Palestine's work offers sonic sculptures to be thoroughly inspected and savored at every moment." —Dean Suzuki, Wired magazine

"A sensuous and compelling sonic experience." —All-Music Guide

"A compelling concert experience." —Sequenza21

"An experience never less than pleasurable." —Int'l Record Review

Charlemagne Palestine

A Sweet Quasimodo Between Black Vampire Butterflies for Maybeck


Shimmering, pulsing music built of unique additive structures for singers, keyboards, and tuned wineglasses by seminal West Coast experimental and post-experimental composer Lentz. (More info...)

"Driving energies darting and thrusting toward unseen destinations. On the Leopard Altar is a study of sonic polish and forward motion." —Mix

"On the Leopard Altar, with its multiple vocal, keyboard and wineglass parts, haunting neo-romantic melodies, and unusual additive and subtractive structures is a remarkable collection. Lentz's music inhabits what he terms a musical "state of becoming," where both new and reappearing musical and textual fragments are fused through complex layering processes. However, the real basis of his seductive music may be the dreamy impressionism of Debussy and the lyrical voice and keyboard interaction of Schubert's lieder." —John Schaefer, WNYC, New Sounds

"When it comes to attempts at musical seduction, Daniel Lentz's music is way out front." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"...a ravishing suite of doesn't merely listen but rather surrenders to its seductive pull." —Ron Schepper, Signal to Noise

Daniel Lentz

On rthe Leopard Altar


Composer/performer/instrument-builder Smith offers strangely beautiful and compelling soundscapes scored for his unique sound-sculptural instruments, steel guitar and electronics. (More info...)

"Chas Smith composes and performs epic soundscapes . . . music that reflects the wide-open spaces of the American West. . . . closer attention reveals his subtle layering of instrumental textures. The overall effect is of a shimmering, reverberating soundscape, extraordinarily evocative of the boundless spaces that clearly inspired it: an endless desert under a throbbing sun." —The Wire

"Smith is surely also one of the most original composers working anywhere today." —Int'l Record Review

"Chas Smith's pedal steel and 12 string dobro are as evocative and quintessentially American as a crackling neon light outside a desert motel at sunset." —Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

"The two long pieces that make up most of Smith's new release, Descent, are his most powerful and focused work yet." —Kevin Macneil Brown, Dusted Magazine

Chas Smith



seven CD singles (CB0015 - CB0021) at special low prices
"Cold Blue ... not only puts out albums with a unified profile but also makes use of the much-neglected, much-needed CD single format." — Los Angeles Times

Exquisite, mobile-like, ever-focus-shifting music for three pianos. Wonderfully performed by noted new-music- pianist Sarah Cahill. 25 min. (More info...)

"...if this is a long night, let it go on and on." —Marc Geelhoed, TimeOut Chicago

"It’s a beautiful and original piece, with ‘family’ links to such composers as Harry Partch, Henry Cowell, Conlon Nancarrow, and John Cage, and with allusions to ‘nature’ and the ‘East’." —Int'l Record Review

"A commanding presence in the landscape of American music. ... his music is passionate, fiercely intelligent and one of a kind. Gann's music embraces a broad range of influences but sounds like no other." —John Luther Adams, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

"If I had my way, Sarah Cahill would be declared a public treasure and forbidden to ever leave the city limits." —Berkeley Voice

Kyle Gann

Long Night

CD single CB0019

Beautiful, casually evolving music for guitar, piano, bass and electronics. It xtends Cox’s continuum of lush, elusively shaped music. It featuring the composer's idiosyncratic guitar playing and performances by Thomas Newman and Peter Freeman. 25 min. (More info...)

"... one of the most engrossing records this year so far—and one of those instances when, in terms of duration, less is not more."—Massimo Ricci, Paris Transatlantic

"Rick is a hidden master of the crepuscular and the diaphanous." —Ry Cooder

"If you imagine floating through the night sky on a large abstract tapestry, you’ll get a feeling for what Cox’s music is like." —Fanfare

"... the music of Rick Cox ... its tones and timbres are subtle and suggestive, exploring a dark world where strange things are happening in the shadows." —Incursion Music Review

Rick Cox


CD single CB0020

Descansos, past is moody, intimate "in memoriam" music for double bass (Barry Newton) and a choir of nine cellos led by new-music-champion cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick. 15 min. (More info...)

" ... lush bleakness that evokes the windswept open spaces of the American West. ... brooding lyricism ... music that seems to linger even after the recording has ended." —John Schaefer, WNYC, New Sounds

"... a work of noble mourning; its ... playing that is full-bodied and unerringly precise, the string textures glow warmly." —Int'l Record Review

"… immediately appealing … " —Raymond Tuttle, ClassicalNet

"... aural poetry, like an inscription on a tombstone to be read with a faint smile instead of tear-stained eyes."—Paris Transatlantic

"You won't want to listen to anything for a while after you've heard this." —Frank J. Oteri, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

Jim Fox

Descansos, past

CD single CB0021

Haunting music for trombones, strings and piano. Fragile music of rarefied and quietly rumbling harmonies that, like drifting clouds, seem to float in and out of "view." Music that is both motionless and moving forward with a strange sense of inevitability. 23 minutes. (More info...)

“Beautiful and evocative work.” —John Schaefer, WNYC, New Sounds

"Though just under 23 minutes, The City and Wind Swept Away . . . seems to linger in the air (and the ear) much longer. Delicate and open throughout." —Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

"Attentiveness to the integrity of slowly passing sound events can be a strangely moving experience. It is so here." —Int’l Record Review (UK)

"Music that . . . feels as if it could go on endlessly . . . music that comes from the classical tradition, but that feels like it belongs somewhere other than the concert hall, . . . texturally rich, meticulously crafted and delicately beautiful." —Dusted magazine

Jim Fox

The City the Wind Swept Away

CD single CB0015

Swirling, compelling music with wildly branching roots touching everything from Debussy and Delius to bop to techno. Sometimes lush and enveloping, sometimes brittle and percussive; sometimes suspended and motionless, sometimes agitated. Featuring clarinetist Marty Walker with string quartet and electronic keyboards. 16 minutes. (More info...)

"When it comes to attempts at musical seduction, Daniel Lentz's music is way out front." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"By intriguing his listeners at the same time he wreathes them in smiles, Lentz always comes up with something listenable and worthwhile. That’s certainly true of this new release." — Gramophone

"Sonically dense music . . . music of near orchestral force and scope." —Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox (American Music Center)

"One is immediately immersed in a beautiful landscape" —ClassicalNet

Daniel Lentz

Los Tigres de Marte

CD single CB0016

Music that combines equal measures of beauty and grit. Moody, elusively shaped textural music that is compelling in its power and grace from its very first violin note to its final shimmer of decaying cymbals. For an ensemble of violins and cellos, percussion and electronic/sampled sounds. 29 minutes. (More info...)

"An impressive, beautiful CD single that offers up a seamless, elegant ‘cloud’ of sound" —Gramophone

"Dense, slowly changing sounds, atmospherically gloomy and harmonically quite subtle." —The Musical Times (London)

"A Temperament is much darker than its title might suggest—informed, as it is, by the harsher concept of terrifying beauty written of by Rilke... a steely sonic environment . —NewMusicBox (Amer. Music Center)

"A miniature masterpiece." —Sands-Zine (Italy)

Michael Jon Fink

A Temperament for Angels

CD single CB0017

Spare, undulating music written for choreographer Lane Lucas’s dance/theater work Shelter. Three violas casually stroll through their notes leading to an alluring voice and piano music that is perhaps an extended coda to the string music that preceded it. Features violist Alicia Ultan and vocalist Marghreta Cordero. 16 minutes. (More info...)

"Pure, restrained and rigorously beautiful." —Alvin Curran

"The work of Steve Peters is of excellent quality. ... the suspended resonances and the ethereal voice of Marghreta Cordero create a fantastic atmosphere, mystical and visionary." —Sands-Zine (Italy)

"Open-space lyricism and beatific atmosphere . . .vivid, stark, and alluring." —Dusted

"This is a gentle, social, considerate piece; each component supports and is supported, sheltered and given shelter, by the others." —Int’l Record Review (UK)

Steve Peters

from shelter

CD single CB0018

A Sequenza21 "Best CD" for 2005

full-length CDs and boxed set

The CD reissue of the noted series of seven 10-inch vinyl eps that Cold Blue released in the early 1980s. Extraordinary music from composers Peter Garland, Rick Cox, Barney Childs, Read Miller, Michael Jon Fink, Daniel Lentz, and Chas Smith. Music for violins and percussion, electric guitar, electronic keyboards with voices, solo and duo pianos, cello, pedal steel guitar, wind instruments of pre-Columbian design, readers, and more. (More info...)

"Cold Blue's little 'ism'-skirting discs . . . a whole wonderful world of new sounds." —John Schaefer, Producer of WNYC's New Sounds

"So mesmerized I can hardly quit listening to it." —Kyle Gann, Arts Journal

"Decidedly cool—in hipness quotient and emotional temperament. Beguiling..." —Josef Woodard, Santa Barbara Independent

"The sounds are spare, wistful, innocent and soft-spoken, often beautiful in a way no other music is." —Arved Ashby, Gramophone

". . . defines a certain ‘Southern California sound." —L.A. Weekly

"Highly recommended" —Sequenza 21

The Complete 10-Inch Series from Cold Blue

3-CD boxed set


A Gramophone magazine "Critics' Choice" for 2004
Michael Byron’s music is one of contrasts, noted for its intertwining of minimalist and maximalist techniques and rigorous processes with freely composed music. In its unique way, it reconciles traditional notions of beauty with boisterous, almost-out-of-control instrumental writing. This new CD collects four of Byron’s very recent works and a new recording of a piece from 1981, all performed by some of today’s most-respected new-music champions, including Sarah Cahill and Joseph Kubera on pianos, Kathleen Supové on synthesizer, and the FLUX Quartet. (More info...)

"One is reminded not only of the time-bound nature of sculpture (one must move around a piece to fully experience it), but the mobiles of Alexander Calder, which are both fixed and moving. And, like Calder's work, Byron's music is immediately comprehensible and beautiful, while it remains experimental." —Dean Suzuki, San Francisco Bay Guardian

"It’s wonderful that music can have such power to (en)lighten the soul and that Michael has the gift to so empower us." —Richard Teitelbaum

"Byron creates maximalist effect out of minimalist means." —ClassicalNet

Michael Byron

Awakening at the Inn of the Birds


Chas Smith—composer, inventor, instrument builder, and performer—has created his own musical world, complete with its own instruments and "language." It is a world of carefully sculpted textures that never sit absolutely still, textures that evolve and are always in the process of a slow change of aural perspective. Critics have repeatedly compared Smith’s sometimes beautiful, sometimes brooding compositions to those of Ligeti. The three pieces on this new recording feature the composer performing on pedal steel guitars, composer-designed-and-built crotales and sound sculptures, zithers, and a 1948 Bigsby lap guitar. (More info...)

"Like famed composer and instrument builder Harry Partch, whom Smith readily acknowledges as an influence, Smith creates unsettling music that is both beautiful and eerie." —Electronic Musician magazine

"Smith has a penchant for long tones and drones, as well as an ear and love for magnificent sonorities. From his creations, as well as his pedal steel guitar, he elicits sounds that suggest thunder, approaching jetliners, electronics, screeching machinery, and much, much more. And he doesn't merely string together gimmicky sounds; he integrates them into sumptuous compositions that range from delicate, lyrical vignettes to grating, sometimes horrific tone poems." —Dean Suzuki, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Chas Smith

An Hour Out of Desert Center


Premiere recording of three new, darkly textured pieces for bass clarinet, marimba, vibraphone, piano, organ, violin, and doublebass: The Light That Fills the World, The Immeasurable Space of Tones, and The Farthest Place. Performances by Marty Walker, Amy Knoles, Robin Lorentz, Bryan Pezzone, and others. Adams' recent work tends to transcend his compositional devices—which churn away in the background while the surface shimmers with a simple joy in the very making of sounds. It is compelling, quietly expressive music that seems timeless in its sublimity. (More info...)

"Whenever I hear this music I am mesmerized by something I can only call truth." —Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men

"Adams's music can be superficially described as the intersection of two diverse influences: Feldman and Cowell . . . his scores bear the ubiquitous marks of Cowell's multitempoed rhythmic structures . . . The Feldman influence manifests itself as a delight in delicately balanced sonorities used as recurring images . . . The variety of dreamy textures Adams achieves with a few simple materials is lovely." —Kyle Gann, American Music in the 20th Century

"Landscape pieces, long, sustained harmonies with puffs of arctic winds blowing the sound one way or another . . . as much snow-strewn color as sound (but pleasurable in either guise). . . beautifully played. — L.A. Weekly

John Luther Adams

The Light That Fills the World


Over the past 25 years, Polansky has been composing a series of fascinating mensuration canons (a formal concept dating back to the Renaissance) that run the sonic gamut from wildly boisterous to serenely introverted. This disc collects thriteen of these canons (one of which is found here in three different realizations) with instrumentations including marimbas, gamelan, electric guitars, children's voices, computer, choir, and chamber ensemble. Performances by and collaborations with William Winant, Jody Diamond, Daniel Goode, the York Vocal Index, Ray Guillette, Nathan Davis, Nick Didkovsky, and others. (More info...)

"This West Coaster-turned-Dartmough prof is the heir apparent to the Cowell/Nancarrow/Tenney genius experimentalist mantle." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"An unashamedly tactile approach to musical material, forging an oblique angle to tradition. . . . cool and elegant . . . it’s a mark of his resourceful mind that he can adapt the basic rules into a series of such complex and varied works . . . . Polansky’s canons show the extreme liberties that can be born from such exacting discipline, given imagination and willing." —The Wire

"This is one of the best discs Cold Blue music has issued since the company’s revival two years ago." —Int'l Record Review

Larry Polansky

four-voice canons


An essential anthology of music by Eugene Bowen, Harold Budd, Michael Byron, Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink, Jim Fox, Peter Garland, John Kuhlman, Daniel Lentz, Ingram Marshall, Read Miller, Chas Smith, and James Tenney--with a new, "bonus" track by David Mahler. From player piano and soloing bullroarer and celesta, from wine glasses to pedal steel guitar accompanied by a choir of banjos to relatively traditional instrumentions, this anthology has something to for almost everyone. Its incautious eclecticism is one of the reason's for its long-resonating popularity. (More info...)

"Recommended." —All-Music Guide

"An anthology with many voices, distinct yet united under the label's vision of presenting some of the most innovative and accomplished new music coming out of the American west coast." —Incursion Music Review

"This reissue is cause for celebration for the famished record scavengers who've been hunting it down since it disappeared." —Signal to Noise

"Throughout, the music communicates the excitement of the new, the fresh, the experimental: most of the pieces convey a sense of delight and wonder in the sheer creative freedom of their approach to sound." —Int'l Record Review

Cold Blue


Haunting, quiet, sometimes lyric, sometimes pensive music: John Luther Adams' Dark Wind, for bass clarinet (Marty Walker), vibraphone, marimba, and piano, joined with music for clarinet/bass clarinet and string quartet by Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink, and Jim Fox. (More info...)

"In turns beautiful, expressive, contemplative and haunting. Recommended." —Incursion Music Review

"Warm dronic music that shimmers in sensuality. . . . just plain old beautiful music . . . delicate music." —21st Century Music magazine

"The performances are about as ego-free as one can find, and they seem indivisible from the compositions themselves." —Fanfare

"A rarefied atmosphere and great subtlety in the interweaving of the structure." —Il Manifesto (Italy)

"A seamless collection of quiet, ruminative chamber pieces. . . . with Walker’s warm and very human tone taking the part of guide and companion. In the best Cold Blue tradition there is plenty of room for the listener here." —Dusted magazine

Adams / Cox / Fink / Fox


Six elegant, dark, sensuous soundscapes in which emotions seem to bubble just below cool surfaces. Much of this harmonically rich and texturally subtle music features composer/performer Cox's innovative and idiosyncratic electric guitar playing techniques (which include the use of preparations and unusual objects setting the strings in motion). Other performers joining him on this CD are celebrated composer/trumpeter Jon Hassell, popular film composer Thomas Newman (piano), and composer/performer/instrument designer Chas Smith (pedal steel guitar). Critics reviewing Cox's earlier recordings noted his music's "graceful lyric lines" and "wistful harmonic suspensions." (More info...)

"Rick is a hidden master of the crepuscular and the diaphanous." — Ry Cooder

"Gently undulating melodies are held in soft focus, without becoming cloying; his enveloping harmonies are less innocent than they first appear. Prettiness with a tough core." —The Wire

"Very cinematic, it seems structured in tableaux of varying densities and hues." —All-Music Guide

"Its tones and timbres are subtle and suggestive . . . strange things are happening in the shadows." —Incursion Music Review

Rick Cox

Maria Falling Away


This new recording of breathtakingly spare textures utilizes the same unique instruments that composer/performer/instrument designer Smith employed on Nikko Wolverine—his popular recording from 2000. These include resonators that sprout rods, which are bowed and struck; large, clangorous sculptures of titanium; and vibraphone-like arrays of metal plates. The music plays with the listener's sense of time (the perceived pace and the clock pace at which musical events take place) as it progresses, the spare slowly drifting to the dense. This is an exotic music unlike anything else. (More info...)

". . . musical experiences utterly out of the ordinary. . . . Smith's pieces are music of experiment and discovery: a way of enabling the physical world to 'speak' by investigating, harnessing and organizing its sonic properties. The extraordinary sound-world of Smith's articulately structured music captivates from the start." — International Record Review

"His music is a sound apart" —Los Angeles Times

"With Smith's music, the sounds are as compelling as his concepts and instruments." —The Wire

"Smith, musician, composer, engineer, metal craftsman and inventor is a classic American original." —New Times (Los Angeles)

Chas Smith

Aluminum Overcast


Music for solo piano, solo celesta, multiple clarinets, and electronic instruments. The fragile piano works and the celesta piece display Fink's command of forms that are Debussyian in beauty (and occasionally in gesture) yet maintain a distinctly contemporary distance from their musical materials. The multi-clarinet work is a dark, slow-moving study in texture and tone color. The title piece is moody, insistent music that glistens with electric timbres, particularly Rick Cox's idiosyncratic electric guitar work. The Los Angeles Times has described Fink's music as "lustrous" and "metaphysically tinged" and likened it to the work of composer Morton Feldman. (More info...)

". . . unapologetically tranquil . . . coaxing substance from seemingly vaporous materials." — Los Angeles Times

"Spare, refined, wholesome, satisfying. . . harmonically beguiling. . . . Fink is on to something. Check it out" —Michael Barone, Minnesota Public Radio

". . . the ethereal feel of Satie and the dreaminess of Debussy." —All-Music Guide

"All very evocative." —International Record Review

Michael Jon Fink

I Hear It in the Rain


Marty Walker performs music for clarinet and bass clarinet by composers Daniel Lentz, Peter Garland, Jim Fox, Michael Jon Fink, Rick Cox, and Michael Byron. Performing with Walker are noted new music champions William Winant, Wadada Leo Smith, Bryan Pezzone, Amy Knoles, David Johnson, and Susan Allan. The music runs the gamut from a lush work for ten pianos and ten clarinets to a technically thorny solo and includes just about everything in between. Although the individual pieces are on their surfaces quite different from one another, they share a certain commonality—an embrace of music's inherent sensuality. Critics have described Walker’s playing as "masterful," "flawless," and "true artistry." (More info...)

". . . think Satie and Morton Feldman, and you come close to the overall mood . . . the thinking-listener's slow lane." —Michael Barone, Minnesota Public Radio

". . . each piece carries a quiet charm that immediately draws in the listener's attention. . . . If, like me, you have a soft spot for the clarinet's melancholy, you won't want to miss this disc, shimmering like light "dancing on water." —Incursion Music Review

"The playing and the recording quality are sparkling." —21st Century Music

Marty Walker

Dancing on Water


This recording brings together two of Fox's haunting electro-acoustic works, The Copy of the Drawing, for spoken (whispered) voice and electronics, and Last Things, for bass clarinet (performed by Marty Walker), pedal steel guitar (Chas Smith), piano, and electronics. Reviewing an earlier recording of Fox's music, Fanfare magazine wrote, ". . . daringly slow and sensuous . . . a kind of warm, glistening atmosphere that stirs memories of the Los Angeles night." These same comments might well apply to the two soundscapes on this disc. (More info...)

"Suffused with a beautiful sadness." — Fanfare

"An austere, ethereal experience." — The Wire

"Sounds that seem to echo across a timeless void. Imagine a view of the sky on a brilliantly clear night, from an uninhabited part of the world: Fox’s music invites one to believe that if the stars, constellations and galaxies emitted sounds, these unearthly harmonics are what one might hear." —International Record Review

"One of the striking qualities of Jim Fox's compositions is that you can still hear them inside you long after the music is over." —Wadada Leo Smith

Jim Fox

Last Things


Michael Byron writes dramatic, lovely music that bares its compositional process as it unfolds. This CD presents two lush, insistent works for strings and keyboards, Music of Nights Without Moon or Pearl and Invisible Seeds for James Tenney, and a barn-burner of a piece for four pianos, Entrances (performed by David Rosenboom). Reviewing the premiere of Music of Nights . . . , the Los Angeles Times wrote, "An atmospheric score loosely tethered to a pulse, it's a gently disjointed assembly of parts, ever on the verge of falling apart and coming together. And that verge, an entrancing and minimal place to be, is the point." (More info...)

"Pieces lovely in their cloudy string textures and abrupt piano riffs. . . it all breathes the air of pre-Silicon Valley California." —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"It's wonderful that music can have such power to (en)lighten the soul and that Michael has the gift to so empower us." —Richard Teitelbaum

"Cascades of swirling music . . . sincere, technically challenging musical art with a distinct point of view." —Fanfare

"Deeply engaging pieces." —International Record Review

Michael Byron

Music of Nights Without Moon or Pearl


Chas Smith, a maverick composer in the spirit of Harry Partch, creates much of his music from instruments of his own design and own tuning. Smith is also a much-in-demand pedal steel guitar player. On this CD, the first two pieces, the beautiful Nikko Wolverine and the texturally dense Tons Tons Macoutes, explore the often electronic/music-concrete-sounding world of his bowed and struck metal instruments. The last two pieces, the leisurely paced, inviting Genus, Sho-Bud and the hymn-like Near the Divide, feature the composer on pedal steel guitar. (More info...)

"Like famed composer and instrument builder Harry Partch, whom Smith readily acknowledges as an influence, Smith creates unsettling music that is both beautiful and eerie." —Electronic Musician magazine

"Meditative alien soundscapes where time comes to a halt . . . a beautiful aural experience . . . Definitely recommended." —All-Music Guide

". . . really nice sounds here, and the resulting musical constructions are quite beautiful." —Fanfare

"Ethereal and atmospheric . . . truculent and aggressive" — Dean Suzuki

Chas Smith

Nikko Wolverine


See our Ordering page for prices and payment information.
backlist vinyl forthcoming about the label ordering contact Cold Blue links