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Promises is the result of three distinct musical worlds colliding. Pharoah Sanders’ jazz improvisation and Flo Po’s twinkling electronics are layered over the string section of the LSO, bound together by a loose symphonic structure. These are textures that rarely sit together in a single composition, yet somehow they seamlessly knit into a cohesive whole. It’s quite a feat, one that could only be pulled off by artists as accomplished as these.
The entire album revolves around a recurring phrase played by Sam Shepherd on the piano, harpsichord and celesta. This phrase becomes the central pulse around which the other textures float, suspended in the space inbetween. The loose tempo allows for the improvised saxophone passages to flow freely and for Pharaoh to lean into the most tender moments of his performance.
At the beginning of the album the string section gradually emerges like a delicate silver thread before building through a series of sweeping chord progressions and moments of bittersweet dissonance. This leads into the third movement where Sam Shephard’s deft synth arrangement becomes the focal point. And later on we hear a hushed vocal performance from Pharoah. It’s one of the most touching moments of the album, with years of lived experience seeping through every crack and bend of his voice in a captivating way.
Promises is an album of subtle expression which invokes a feeling of boundlessness. It’s a wide open sonic space where each note is allowed to resonate to its full conclusion. There’s a constant feeling of push and pull, of tension and release, though it never really resolves fully. Something is always left hanging in the air - a question, a prayer, an inexplicable feeling. It’s perhaps one of the most surprising and profound releases of the year.
Matt says: A beautiful orchestral piece that while both resplendent with FP's and PS's wonderful idiosyncrasies; recalls the gorgeous depth of Prefab Sprout's "I Trawl The Megahertz" but without the vocal parts! Epic!
1. Promises (Movement 1) (1:16)
2. Promises (Movement 2) (3:56)
3. Promises (Movement 3) (3:16)
4. Promises (Movement 4) (3:39)
5. Promises (Movement 5) (6:06)
1. Promises (Movement 6) (8:25)
2. Promises (Movement 7) (3:26)
3. Promises (Movement 8) (9:57)
4. Promises (Movement 9) (5:43)