Clive Wright: Spoke
Desert Sky Music

Spoke is about a complete a recorded portrait as one might hope to have of Clive Wright, who has in recent years has seen his profile rise through a number of collaborations with Harold Budd. One might describe Wright as an ‘ambient guitarist,' even if doing so threatens to pigeonhole him a little bit; the label isn't misdirected, however, as his discography includes a number of Live Ambient recordings, the most recent being Deluge issued on his own California-based Desert Sky Music label. In contrast to such singularly focused work, the seventy-minute Spoke covers many bases in mixing vocal with instrumental pieces and songs with moodscapes and meditations.

“A Message of Gravity” opens the album with a mournful, Eastern-styled dirge featuring Wright's own supplicating vocals and distinctive electric guitar sound, whose tone is equally fluid and lyrical. That Eastern feel re-emerges during “Babylon Karari” and “Red & Green” where Wright brings oud and hand drums into the fold (there's even an electric guitar solo in the former that's, dare I say it, Santana-esque). Some tracks exude a beatific, celestial character of the type often associated with New Age (“Veritas In Adventus”) while others are more dreamily trip-hop in style (“You Should Know,” featuring vocalist Mariietta Rebekka, and “Mes Yeux Vitreux”). A few are straight-up showcases for Wright's always satisfying electric guitar playing (“11.11.11,” “Dune Matrix”), and Budd sits in on “Timeless,” though not with his readily identifiable piano but with other keyboards that could as easily be taken for Wright's playing, not Budd's.

Perhaps the album's best moment is one of its most unassuming: “Blue Star,” a lovely instrumental ballad that finds Wright weaving multiple guitar parts of contrasting timbre into a memorably peaceful serenade; Wright's electric guitar sound is sometimes similar to Robert Fripp's, and never more is that evident than during this piece. Though overlong (arriving near album's end, the ten-minute title track is about twice longer than necessary), Spoke nevertheless offers an excellent overview of Wright's music and would make for an especially good introduction to someone new to his work.

May 2012