Although the majority of my exposure to and appreciation of Tim Story’s music has come over the last five years, largely through his collaborations with Dwight Ashley, Deiter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, his name has been in my head since I first heard his track on the 1990 Windham Hill compilation, Soul of the Machine. I probably couldn’t name you three other artists from that disc, but Tim Story’s sound always stuck with me. While in recent years his work as a chamber-ambient artist has been delineated largely by his subtle manipulations of sound in otherwise straightforward instrumentals, the fact is that what’s residing under it is exactly that–the straightforward and quite lovely instrumental work that hearkens back to his earliest recordings.
And now we have Collected, a suite of New Age compositions that first appeared on several Windham Hill compilation albums, along with a few previously unreleased tracks. This is Story unadorned, the elegance of his playing set center stage and allowed to fully take the spotlight. That classically clean Windham Hill sound is here, too, the acoustics sharp, clear and familiar. On his web site Story notes that working within the Windham Hill style made him focus less on his sense of ambiguity and shadow and more on melody and harmony–but you’d figure that out just from listening. Collected is an end-of-day disc filled with music you’ll gladly let wash over you, soft and melodic and loaded with lyrical imagery and well-placed hints of drama. I was pleased to hear “Asleep the Snow Came Flying” again, one of my favorite tracks from the Winter Solstice collection, the tune waking like a sleeping memory in my brain. And for pure heartache-worthy beauty it’s hard to top “When Comes December,” gliding along on melancholic cello from Martha Reikow and rich, willowy woodwinds from Kim Bryden. (In his notes, Story thanks Reikow and Bryden for lending their talents to many of these tracks. I would like to thank them, as well.)
Further testament to Story’s range and talent is provided by his handling of work by Fauré, Bach, Vivaldi and Satie. Each is approached with a love and respect that echoes through each note. Vivaldi’s Largo has never sounded more lush and romantic to my ears, and even Satie’s well-worn 1st Gymnopédie gains a touch of depth and emotion from a simple pizzicato backdrop and what feels like a more deliberate slowness, a dancer’s motion captured frame by frame.
I have enjoyed listening to Tim Story’s continued and continuing evolution as an artist. Collected is an excellent chance to look back at where and how that evolution began, a series of very descriptive and eminently enjoyable passages in Story’s story.
Available from Tim Story’s web site.