Review Summary: Still Life.
I've never gotten postcards; in either the physical or the literal sense. The appeal of them seems lost to me, someone who's far too reclusive and much too compulsive to enjoy something so quaint and considerate. Still, I've found myself gazing, for what seems like hours on end, trying to catch that setting sun dipping below the Midwestern horizon; a scene that captures me--I feel framed. Ensnared and entranced within the margins of Bright Size Life
, I encounter my first postcard.
Whispered sentiments from 1976; this is an album of candid conversations. The blissful lull of Pat Metheny's velvet guitar phrasing, Jaco Pastorius' shrewd bass lines, murmuring in counterpoint, and the crisp drum fills and cymbal chattering of Bob Moses--all notes passed through delicate hands, and played in the key of subtle. Within the first half-minute of the title track, liquid melodies wash over you, before sinking behind fading vignettes, like rain drops. These chords strike like familiar stories about perfect strangers, until the moment the opening melodies return; you'll swear they were childhood friends. "Sirabhorn"--with its gossamer tones--sways amidst dust and dressers, like a lullaby, only concerned with the fond memories brought on by porcelain figurines. Strung between tales of ghost towns and silent anecdotes, juxtaposing feelings of joy and longing--you'll experience unity. It feels as if you're being cradled in harmonies, rocking in hopes to sleep in peace. When you next awaken, it'll be--quite literally--in a dream; at the 1:11 mark of "Midwestern Nights Dream", the bass rumbles with a sense of urgency and an air of forewarning. It's inconspicuous and delightfully unsettling, particularly in knowing that, in a few minutes time, the tables will have turned; Pat Metheny's guitar becomes an accent to Jaco Pastorius' bass--commentator turned keynote speaker. The genius lies in knowing that's not the only thing that's shifted.
I sometimes question the inclusion of "Round Trip/Broadway Blues". Not to say that I don't admire the ambitious treatment of the Ornette Coleman original, but moreso that its "obvious faults" serve to better highlight the "apparent strengths" of Bright Size Life
; the song's latter stretches mark the first distinct occasions during which Metheny's playing is noticeably absent, thus eliminating the trio's potent chemistry... or so one would assume. On the contrary, and not so "obvious" as I'd first believed, it's instances like these--few and far or not/nil--that punctuate these sonic drift-lines, altogether grounding it in its own reality; our reality.
The sky dims as the sun begins to slink behind the shade of the abandoned hillside. All the while, I was under the impression that--these past 37 minutes--I became engulfed in what would become my first postcard. In hindsight, I feel inclined to reconsider; this album's sublime atmosphere is much too intimate for movement. Its crystalline stories were woven for the experience, as opposed to being a product of the experience. As I peer intently into Bright Size Life
--an eager onlooker--I see Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, and Bob Moses rehearsing in the stale warmth of a run down wooden cabin, peeking out into the world, writing songs about their first postcard.