Carson Cooman: Owl Night

review cooman owl night x1 cong

We’d like to be the first to compare organ music with Phil Collins.

This latest in the never-ending series of CDs by Cooman and/or Erik Simmons (who plays) is the one we like best thus far. Organ music can be a little formal or even ponderous, and there’s that whole echoey in a church thing going on, too. Not this time.

This new CD sees the organ at the more meditative end of the repertoire and the songs are shorter, and thus allow no excessive noodling. Indeed, track two Postludium, has the organic equivalent of shredding (heavy rock, fast guitar solo) as Simmons whips his fingers up and down the keys repetitively.

The title track is quiet and of “expendable duration”, which we think means the organist can stop when he gets bored. It was this track that flagged our attention as it almost forces the mind to relax — it’s ambient music, of a piercing nature admittedly.

Cantio Mystica, dedicated to German composer and organist Wolfram Graf, is similarly atmospheric and mystical.

Concerto Piccolo is a memoriam to Eberhard Kraus (1931–2003) and opens with an organ fanfare. The notes say Kraus “developed a personal blend of 12-tone technique (no idea) and the music is based on a 12-tone row used in Kraus’s own concerto …”. To our ears, ignorant of 12-tone techniques, the structure in the first movement is mid-career Genesis, mixed in with a splash of ELP (helped by the fanfare). It makes it sound modern. The proggy feel continues in the second movement, and we’d suggest that Comman is familiar with ELP’s Abaddon’s Bolero — it’s slower but the melody is similar in places.

Two Fantasias, dedicated to German organist and composer Raimund Schächer, are the pieces that brought Phil Collins to mind. The melody could easily be adapted to a pop tune and the sound, say the sleeve notes, is “bittersweet: warm and sad”, the qualities that Collins evoked. The song also follows a pop-like pattern. The same applies in Preludio Staccato, dedicated to German composer and organist Markus Nickel.

It’s still an album of organ music, but gentle and more accessible than most.
Out on Divine Art, dda 25163.

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