Sherman, Jeff - Above & Beyond

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Relentless Pursuit
Catalog Number: RD4133
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:58:00

Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Sherman's Above & Beyond is much different from his work with Glass, the band he shares with this brother Greg, Paul Black and Jerry Cook. Above & Beyond would fall in the same category as the early work of Steve Roach - Empetus-period say. The album starts out with three short pieces (the longest being 2:40), "Above," "Beyond," and "Miles, Monk and Mom" then moves into three longer pieces, "Heavens Reply," "Big Sur 9-14-00" and the 29-minute plus "Austasia Pt. 1" on which he's joined by both his brother (on piano) and Black (maracas) for the "Astral" section of the piece, ? and the voices of several poets, one pontificating on underwear. Yes, underwear (recited by someone ? the poet ? who sounds like Dennis Hopper to me; he's certainly played characters that would? *).

There are aspects to "Austasia Pt 1", especially at the beginning, that are absolutely beautiful. Hauntingly beautiful, in fact. One envisions a church (perhaps because of the church organ), empty except for the sunlight streaming in through the windows. Not a church really, a cathedral, since the effect is something quite large, austere. After a bit, we get a dark, growly sound, like some humbled beast entering the cathedral, accompanied by the occasional sound of slashing percussion (like claws snatching at the air). These elements make this 7-minute passage mesmerizing. It's at this point that organ gives way to a more symphonic, sweeter, string-like keyboard, though this shift in tone and texture doesn't change the mood at all, if only making it brighter (the fullness of day, perhaps). As the poetry recital section begins, still maintaining the same overall mood, we hear also birds chirping, an elephant trumpeting (once) and other sounds of the wild (I imagined this cathedral, by the way, overgrown with vines and branches? abandoned?). It is only during the latter portion of this track, when things become darker, and more abstract, that the mood is changed ? as if something has happened to shatter this peacefulness. Contained within this track, underneath one of the recitals are segments of Beethoven's "5th Symphony." (One of the pieces recited is Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.") on which Greg Sherman performs on piano with Black on maracas. Into this mix on the latter half add sax, some sounding quite mournful ? like a dispirited high school band ? with ethnic percussion, warbling keyboards, and, buried deep, clanging percussion. It's all interesting and odd at the same time. It's the kind of piece that is so full of layers, that it demands repeated and studied listens just get all the nuances.

Really, that could be said of Sherman's whole album. "Above," which opens the album, is a nice, upbeat organ focused piece, with piano, plucked strings, and crashing gong accents giving the piece some great depth, all in the space of a minute and half. "Beyond" is mellower, darker, moodier? the downside to the same arrangement? And in this, it is also quite spacey (beyond the sky above is "space," yes?). "Miles, Monk And Mom" is a lovely, gentle, piano based, classical piece, edged with a hint of melancholy, but also suffused with warmth (and a bit of muted trumpet).

"Heavens Reply" begins with a less organic sounding keyboard passage, as sound ripples out from the key note like waves (it's a sound that will recall the intro to Rush's "The Camera Eye"). This patterns percolates and undulates, putting the listener in a state of flux, while the rest of the world has been frozen? like being in bubble. This gives way to more spacey passages, as psychedelic shapes, patterns and colours float across your vision (if you rub your eyes very hard, this is the effect you'll get ? though for safety reasons, I don't recommend you make it habit?). Ah, or think of 2001: A Space Odyssey ( I think). There are moments here too that are quite symphonic, and quite lovely.

"Big Sur 9-14-00" is a silvery, shimmery piece, with cascades of keyboard effects that trickle down ? like standing in a rainstorm along the beach -- chirping birds only add to the outdoorsy feel. Of course, one hears crashing waves. Big Sur is along California's coast, up near Carmel (about 2.5 hours from San Francisco). While I personally live inland from the sea, this music perfectly captures this seaside atmosphere (for pictures of this beautiful spot in California, see

This is a lovely, lovely album through and through ? though I don't know if the latter half of "Austasia" could be called "lovely," per se. It is, nevertheless, interesting. If symphonic, electronic music is your thing, then you should make Jeff Sherman's Above & Beyond your thing.

This is a limited edition CD, by the way, as only 246 have been pressed.

Above (1:30) / Beyond (2:19) / Miles, Monk, and Mom (2:40) / Heavens Reply (11:02) / Big Sur 9-14-00 (12:01) / Austasia Pt 1* (29:21) /

Jeff Sherman - Fender Rhodes Piano, Ensoniq Dsk1, Ensoniq Dsk8, Hohner Pianet, Arp Odyssey, Mellotron, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, KORG O1W-FD, Fender Precision Bass, Thorn Inlay Custom Bass, electric sax-synth, Fatar StudioLogic MP-113 bass pedals, Alesis H-16 drum machine, digital samples, analog tape recordings
Greg Sherman - acoustic piano (6)
Paul Black ? maracas (6)

Above & Beyond (2002)
Home (2003)
Gauguin (2006)

Genre: Electronic

Origin US

Added: February 16th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 3302
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]