Sunday, March 1, 2020

Album Review: Pat Metheny- From This Place

I revisited the consequential collaborations of Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny following the February 10 death of the keyboardist.   The most remarkable aspects of recordings including The Pat Metheny Group (1978), As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls (1981) and Offramp (1982) is each album’s standing as a self-contained universe. 

From This Place is similarly distinct.  Mays didn’t participate in its creation, but Metheny’s latest album echoes his wildly inventive contributions.  Mays and Metheny didn’t merely document performances; they invented new worlds with intrinsic sets of logic and protocol.  The infinite sound field of From This Place is the sonic equivalent of the cinematic special effect in which the frame slowly pans away from a microscopic detail of an earthbound object to reveal the incalculable immensity of space. 

While the core supporting cast of pianist Gwilym Simcock, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Antonio Sanchez are prominently featured, the lush underpinning provided by the Hollywood Studio Symphony further expands the dimensions of the project.  The monumental production is the central component of From This Place.  Only the chamber-folk of the title track featuring intimate vocals from Meshell Ndegeocello breaks the sense of immensity. 

As with Metheny’s collaborations with Mays, From This Place is best experienced on headphones.  The unapologetic bombast, silvery sentimentality and stupefying melodicism may not appeal to everyone, but to those of us who live within a stone’s throw of Metheny’s old stomping grounds in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, From This Place sounds like home.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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