I believe the composer himself sent me this disc. I was not familiar with this composer/musician prior to receiving this but, a quick search on Amazon revealed several albums by this artist. Cissell‘s web page validates my initial impression of an artist who will not easily fit in a category. That is to say that this music wears several hats.
There is nothing experimental or difficult about this CD nor is it exactly pop or easy listening. It is a rather personal recording. Indeed the composer plays most of the parts and the concept is entirely his own. Not having heard Cissell’s other recordings it is difficult to say whether this most recent one is a continuation of a style or a departure. What is clear is that this music is easy to listen to but difficult to market efficiently.
This entirely self composed and produced album consists of 13 tracks ranging from 2 to 5 minutes or so in length. The instrumentation consists of mandolin, electric bass, strings, and electronics and all are performed by the composer. He identifies the track, “Follies” as being most appropriate for classical radio and the track, “Serf Shop” for pop/alternative radio. It is lovely material with some folk leanings as well as classical leanings. Cissell has classical training and that comes across in his writing but suffice it to say that his influences are eclectic and wide ranging. He clearly is well trained in his ability to write effectively for these instruments and hearing this work makes one wonder what his more classically oriented work sounds like.
If this disc has languished for longer than it should have in my “to be reviewed” queue then blame it in part on the reviewer’s organizational strategy but also on the difficulty pigeon holing such a release. There is little doubt that most who hear this album will find it entertaining but it is not clear how easy it will be for fans to find such a release unless they are searching for this specific composer.
In reviewing “classical” recordings one can rely on the “sounds like” strategy to provide listeners with some idea of what to expect. That does not seem to work here. The music is very listenable but it is not strictly classical and not exactly pop so while it is a very good disc I’m not sure how easily it will find an appreciative audience.
This reviewer will pay attention to this composer and looks forward to hearing his more classically oriented work as well. Kudos, Mr. Cissell.