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The Lovejoy Sessions (2009), Chasm’s forth release is a contemplative acoustic guitar album with a touch of melancholy. Lovejoy began as a solo guitar recording project that was done for no reason other than to hear what would happen. As it developed, it took on a live of its own and eventually evolved into another Chasm record. The new CD features Mark Esakoff on classical guitar/voice and Michael Allen Whipple on flutes/keyboards/percussion, along with Audrey Esakoff on piano for one track. “Lovejoy” is the name of the street where the sessions were recorded in Portland, Oregon during the summer of 2008.

Lovejoy is reminiscent of their debut release, self-titled CHASM (1995) with much of its neo-classical feel. The album even has two new versions of songs from that first album. 

Track 1, “The Time Necklace” opens as a solo guitar piece. This track is what the original project was intended to sound like, each song a single classical guitar performance. But then ...

Track 2, “Until Goodbye” begins with rolling drums & percussion signaling that things are heading off into another direction. Originally written as a samba, this is the first time electronic percussion sounds have been used in a Chasm recording.

Track 3, “Facing The Moon” is the companion piece to “Facing The Sun”, a song found on Chasm’s album Panorhythmica (2000). Hence, the haunting lunar landscape sounds and moonlit violas. 

Track 4, “Land Of The Living – Mirrorworld mix” is a new version of a piece originally found on the 1995 release CHASM. The intro has an inverted/mirrored sound that is actually the signature classical guitar part yet to come in… played backwards.

Track 5, “Between The River & The Sea” is a piece that would have fit nicely on the album CHASM. It features classical guitar and alto flute which were central to the sound at the time. The 1995 CD was promoted as: Somewhere between a river of sound and a sea of silence there is the music of CHASM.

Track 6, “Broken Windows” features Audrey Esakoff who plays piano on her own composition. What a 10 year old feels like after breaking a window with a softball…

Track 7, “Alphanumerique” is a tune Michael once made a demo of years ago. When Lovejoy was thought to have been finished and all the songs sequenced in order, Mark remembered it and suggested it be included as track #7. Michael agreed, but only after a making a new recording of it. 

Track 8, “Elysian Fields – Topographic mix” is also a re-recording of a piece originally found on CHASM. Here the arrangement builds with energy and repetition, something like a rock version of Ravel’s Bolero might. 

Track 9, “Bamboo Blues – Homage Du Gil mix” is a nod to the late jazz orchestral arranger Gil Evans. This arrangement in particular is a tribute to the work he did with Miles Davis on their collaboration, Sketches of Spain. It too is a new version of a song originally found on Chasm’s third release Bamboo Blue (2008). 

Track 10, “Grace Like Rain” is the only vocal piece on the album. The song written and made popular by singer/songwriter Todd Agnew is based on the traditional hymn, Amazing Grace. Mark chose this song when asked to sing and play guitar at his aunt’s funeral. Later his cousin suggested he record it saying, “Hey, even Rod Stewart sang Amazing Grace on one of his albums!” Rod Stewart?

So what? So there it is.

Dancing About Architecture,  

- Zephyr
26 January 2009
Hollywood, California

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