Astral Vinyl (Navona)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., July 1, 2011
Stephen BarberAstral Vinyl (Navona)
Composer/arranger/keyboardist Stephen Barber haunts your daydreams with Astral Vinyl. Enlisting the collaborative and interpretative skills of the Tosca Strings ("Chanson Rond Point") and operatic regality of Lucy Schaufer ("Marbles"), the local Van Dyke Parks-like visionary lets the American Repertory Ensemble ("Conversatio Morum" movements), Meridian Arts Ensemble ("Multiple Points of View of a Fanfare" parts I and II), and combo the Boiler Makers ("Elvis and Annabelle" movements) do the heavy lifting. It's a rare contender in Austin's neoclassical genre, one not far removed from the work of Mother Falcon, and though Astral Vinyl isn't available on wax, it evokes Barber's luminous cool with pristine arrangements and elegant piano work. The enigmatic and innovative Barber – who counts in his credits work with David Byrne, Eric Johnson, Ornette Coleman, and Keith Richards – strikes a chord that resonates.