Azure Miles Records ~ The Music of Michael Robinso
Luminous Realms review by Mark Keresman
allaboutjazz.com - June 26, 2002
Michael Robinson is a jazz-influenced composer who bases (at least in part) his compositions on the ancient Indian (long) musical form of raga, but the two pieces on this CD do not consciously attempt to "sound like" ragas in particular or Indian music in general. Robinson is no mere copycat or cultural/colonial imperialist - he’s studied and absorbed the essence and approach of musics of not only India but other Asian cultures as well. I’m not certain if all the sounds on this disc are created via computer, overdubbed live instrumentation or both - and I’m not sure it matters at all. The music on Luminous Realms may seem free-form on the first few listens, but I don’t think "form" as most folks know it is what MR is aiming for. Not to get all metaphysical/cosmic on y’all, but the aim of some music/sound is to allow the mind/spirit to achieve an altered state, and get to place it might not get to with the usual (though hardly outmoded) verse/chorus/verse/solos/verse format - and that is what MR is shooting for, I think - music/sound to get you to a Different But (slightly, at least) Enlightened Place. This is spacious, gentle music to get lost in, without succumbing to New Age-type/ambient bland-out. For one thing, there is the ebb & flow of Rhythm - but be warned, it’s sometimes more implicit than explicit, and it’s never used as any sort of "anchor" or placebo. Luminous Realms has shades of "light" or "dark" coursing through it - it’s a truly cerebral, challenging listen though never self-consciously or defiantly difficult that recalls now ‘n’ again the 70s electronic journeys of Roger Powell and Edgar Frose and the 90s dark ambiance of Lustmord, Robert Rich and even Bill Laswell.