From Aural Innovations #31 June 2005:
Deeply influenced by the 80s academy of ambient guitarists (Bill Nelson, Robert Fripp, Michael Rother, Durutti Column), Mike Fazio’s orchestramaxfieldparrish project is a splendid concatenation of soaring e-bow guitars, heavenly synthesizers, crystalline percussion and an assortment of other instruments finely tuned to the frequencies of the heart and soul. Fazio’s closest spiritual antecedents, however, serve as mere ghostly projections that infuse his compositions with a kind of invisible aura and rarely a heavy-handed presence. At their best, Fazio’s songs are channels to other times and places that resonate in the pools of memory, anthems of transcendence for fallen angels and romantic warriors. The lovely “Bow” is a case in point. Chiming electric guitars create a lush dreamscape over which an orchestra of tuned percussion, wood, glass and assorted metals flicker like fireflies on a summer evening. Both intoxicating and entrancing, “Waiting for Twilight” builds swelling guitars into a symphonic architecture of longing ascension, where rich chordal clusters rise and fall like the shadows of velvet birds cast against a kaleidoscopic horizon. These and the other shorter pieces (”…and then a crowd, impossible to number…” and “Where the Angels Crash and Die,” for instance) all share a consistency and fluidity of vision that the extended suites (”The Tears of Christ” and “Music from the Empty Corner”) occasionally lack. This isn’t to say that the longer compositions are too repetitive or directionless, only that within the less consciously circumscribed, more open-minded framework, Fazio tends to drift far afield to esoteric circles that only true initiates can fully appreciate. “The Tears of Christ” effectively utilizes musical space for the creation of sounding structures through time - a kind of kyrie eleison for solo guitar processed with a multitude of effects. “Music from the Empty Corner” is perhaps Fazio’s clearest and most heartfelt expression of his connection to the Orphic myth he alludes to in the album’s liner notes. Using little more than bells, gongs and synth, Fazio sculpts a mesmerizing tone poem of luminescent beauty. Here, timbre and pitch are constructed in the same way that a painter might use light and shadow on a canvas. Shimmering and radiant, “Music from the Empty Corner” sunders the darkness like veils of light from another sun - truly splendid music for the deep silences of the night. Tears is a rare oasis in what is increasingly becoming a barren world of sound. - Charles Van de Kree
From FUNPROX - July, 2005:
…‘Tears’ by the formation orchestramaxfieldparrish is a record one mustn’t skip.
‘Tears’ is an evocative and dynamic blend of all sorts of instruments (listed separately beneath each track in the cd-booklet) as electric guitars, drums, piano, synthesizers and acoustic guitars. Keywords to describe the music would be: atmospheric, soundtrackish and dreamy. The overall audial impression of the record is not dark at all, more soothing then menacing, sometimes even more poppy than ambient.
The rich variation of styles is clear in ‘A lot like you’. After the initial drones, orchestramaxfieldparrish suddenly breaks the ambient structure and starts a moody and catchy song. In the next track, besides droning electronics, also drums and a bass-line are present, but this time more to support atmosphere than to create a songstructure. ‘Bow’ is definitely my favourite track, which sounds like a mixture of Raison d’être and Alio Die. The echoing, reverbing guitarsounds create a very powerful lush feeling of desolation and sadness. Like Orpheus’ lyre twanging sad strains, emitting nice vibrating sounds. These chilling, distant guitarstrains are present in most of the tracks; resulting in an album that sounds as a whole. Everyone sensitive to soundscapes will absolutely be touched by the efforts of this band from the big apple.
Orchestramaxfieldparrish combines the best ingredients of ambient-electronic music on the one hand, and post-rock-alike guitar drones on the other. A definite recommendation. - JS
from EXPOSE - issue 27, JULY, 2003:
I chose this CD for review based solely on the name. What a welcome change to see a project that absorbs influences from other art forms, not a common enough trait. And the serenity in the paintings of Parrish - once the whipping boy of hip mid-century moderns, for whom all but splashes and blobs of ugliness was bourgeois and out-of-fashion - is the perfect afflatus for the beautiful ambient sound paintings of OMP. And it is all the work of one man, Mike Fazio. Striking is Fazio’s grasp of the production savvy needed to achieve a professionalism that exceeds the grasp of most other ambient music projects. Surely the emphasis is on mood and atmosphere - each track explores a different side of the craft, delivered by a distinct orchestration. Electric guitars here, Mellotron, piano and acoustic guitars there; synths and samples on another; and so on. Cues are taken from various ends of the genre: Fripp & Eno, Harold Budd, Bill Nelson, David Sylvian, etc. But he reveals his instruments more prominently, adding bass, even a touch of drums and symphonic elements as well, something that most ambient composers run scared from. It all coalesces into a wonderfully coherent statement, not a hodge podge. Ambient music is easy to fool around and dabble with, but deceptively difficult to get right. OMP hits the mark splendidly, and I recommend it. - Michael Ezzo
Mike Ezzo’s Best of 2002:
1. Univers Zero - Rhythmix
2. Jonas Hellborg - Icon
3. Pat Metheny - Speaking of Now
4. Lars Hollmer’s Global Project - Sola
5. Peter Hammill - Clutch
6. Manring/McGill/Stevens - Controlled By Radar
7. orchestramaxfieldparrish - Tears
8. Tangerine Dream - Inferno
9. Wayne Shorter - Footprints Live
10. Softworks - Softworks
from APERSAND ETCETERA - SEPTEMBER, 2002:
faith strange - fs2
Mike Fazio is the Orchestra, and has been around since 1987 – the sleeve includes a useful bio: Black 47 prominent for over a decade amongst other gigs, various production. Among the enthusiasm of a pr insert, the references to Bill Nelson and David Sylvian strike a chord at first listening (celebrated by the cheeky sampling of samples from the Orchestra Arcana for one track).
‘Beauty and wonder’ is that, echoed and delightful backwards and forwards guitar tones, reminiscent of Bill Nelson, which is furthered by the choppy Chinese chimes and sweeping guitar in the first half of ‘Dorothea gets her wish’ but then a big percussion enters with voice tones and piano and OMP is finding its own voice, perhaps symbolised by the squeezed guitar at the end. But the Nelson sampled samples of ‘…and then a crowd, impossible to number…’ surrounded by long tones and washes, sounds swirling around the slightly echoed voices.
I have often wondered about track lengths – and there does seem to be a pointed nature to ‘A lot like you’ being 8:01 long (we are the 801, we are the central shaft). But it opens in an un-Eno way with a couple of minutes of tidal crackle rumbles before a very nice guitar solo with piano accompaniment that fades back into the rumble that is extended to fill the time. Some echoes of Windham Hill, but there seems to be a little more edge. Unstable and phasing surging and pinging tones (including some high guitar) grounded by drum and rubbery bass are ‘Where the angels crash and die’.
The lush echoed and reverbed guitar provides a varied density melody surrounded by restrained chimes and soft scraping noises in ‘Bow’ after which long tones in ‘Waiting for twilight’ form embracing and warm clouds of sound, with room for a bass solo and then some edgy guitar. The Fripp-ish nature of that sound is echoed in ‘The tears of christ’ a 17 minute soundscape that is a spacious work with phasey looped and delayed guitar, lyric chromatic clusters that nod towards Fripp’s soundscapes but develops OMP’s own sound. Finally ‘Music from the empty quarter’ is a contemplative piece for gongs and deep rumble, chimes and tones drifting and surging, some larger echoed sounds, but generally relaxed. Or almost finally, as there is a brief extra piece of backward and ringing guitar to balance the opening track.
This is one of those albums which is going to get replayed because it is full of timeless pleasure – from the more dramatic guitar pieces to the extended spacious contemplations - a musical suite to savour (especially if you like Bill Nelson).
- Jeremy Keens
Progressive Newsletter 2005
Im Moment scheint wieder mal die Zeit für elektronische Musik reif zu sein. Brachte zum Anfang des Jahres InsideOut über ihr neues Label Revisited Rec. gleich vier Alben von Elektronikpionier Klaus Schulze als CD Wiederveröffentlichung unters Volk, so ist auch das Projekt Orchestramaxfieldparrish in den Gestaden der elektronischen Klänge angesiedelt. Reiner Zufall oder nicht: die ätherischen, schwebenden Klängen passen einfach vortrefflich zum nasskalten, schneereichen Wetter dieses Winters. Mike Fazio, der sich als alleiniger Musiker hinter dem Pseudonym Orchestramaxfieldparrish verbirgt, ist vom Arbeitsgerät keineswegs allein auf die Tasten fixiert. Neben Synthesizer, Mellotron und Klavier, reproduziert vor allem die elektrische Gitarre den Großteil seiner feingliedrigen, komplett instrumentalen Klanglandschaften. Seine Bandbreite ist weitgefächert und reicht von abstrakten Ambientklängen bzw. allein auf Stimmungen aufgebauten Soundcollagen hin bis zu “normaler” Musik in melodischer Schlichtheit. Dadurch gelingt es die eher schwebenden Klänge wieder zu erden, eine Balance neben reiner Atmosphäre, durch fragile Songfragmente zu finden. Der Spagat zwischen Experiment, Avantgarde und struktureller Denkweise gelingt auf diesem Album über weite Strecken, dennoch ist die ganze Synthese des amerikanischen Musikers nicht unbedingt leicht Kost, sondern eher als Extrem Ambient einzustufen.
- Kristian Selm
from WIND AND WIRE - November 2003
Volume 1, Number 7
I have mixed feelings about this ambient music CD, the work of Mike Fazio recording here under the pseudonym orchestramaxfieldparrish. Those songs that I do like on Tears I like a lot. Then there are two to which I have a negative reaction. On balance, though, I would give the CD a solid recommendation because of the brave nature of what Fazio is doing as well as the music contained on the tracks I do enjoy. And, while I had to hit the “skip” a few times when playing the album, you may not have to.
Instrumentation on the nine tracks (which range from one and half to over seventeen minutes in length) varies from electric and acoustic guitars, drums, piano and bass to more traditionally ambient tools of the trade (samplers, synths). This variety also extends to the music, as I hinted at above. The album opens with a short (the minute and a half piece mentioned earlier) abstract electric guitar song, “Beauty and Wonder,” and segues into the full-bodied (guitars, drums, piano and synths) upbeat “Dorothea Gets Her Wish,” full of sparkling electronic notes, rolling piano chords and soaring electric guitars (placed back of the mix). From there, we are treated to a very nice pure ambient cut, “…and then a crowd, impossible to number,” featuring layers of billowing serene but minor key synths helped along by some dialogue snippets (one sounds like Spock, one sounds like Lousie Fletcher from Brainstorm and the other one I’m unsure of).
As I mentioned above, some of the tracks on Tears are misses for me, including the disjointed “A Lot Like You,” which tries to evolve an opening stretch of noise and static into an acoustic guitar and piano number resembling an instrumental folk music piece. For me, it didn’t gel and neither of the disparate parts hit me much either. Likewise, the next song, “Where The Angels Crash And Die,” while deserving of its pessimistic title, plays like a goth rock band (electric guitars, drums, bass) jamming to no real purpose except to craft a lot of dark textures. If that turns your crank, you’ll love this.
Things take a sharp turn upwards (meaning, for the better) starting with “Bow,” a drifting but melancholy Jeff Pearce-like electric guitar song that also features assorted percussive effects on metal, glass, and wood which are, remarkably enough, cohesive and non-pretentious. Guitars on this track are both strummed and also used as drone-like ambience. From here on out, the album is on a roll, with one solid number after another. “Waiting For Twilight” is a serene ambient cut, on which Fazio’s electric guitars sound more like synths as they weave a darkish, but not too, pattern in the night sky. At more than seventeen minutes, “The Tears Of Christ” is far and away the most ambitious track on the CD. Using nothing but electric guitars, Fazio explores abstract minimalism, experimenting with the silence between notes as well as a variety of tones, shadings, and more overt “guitar-like” musical stylings. The only other artist doing anything at all like this that I’m familiar with is Jon Durant, and Fazio stands toe-to-toe with him on this piece. It’s possible that the track could have been shortened, yet with minimalistic music like this, how much is enough or not enough?
For me, the closing track is also far and away my favorite. “Music From the Empty Corner” (an alarmingly appropriate title) also journeys down minimal pathways, but this time does so with assorted bells and gongs, most of them reverberating and sustaining for long periods of time. The various tones, each of them pleasant in their own right, coalesce to form fascinating patterns yet in a completely random fashion. While the music is not “dark,” there is a brilliant juxtaposition of contemplation tinted with profound sadness (or at least that’s my reaction) which transfixed me every time I played this cut. While twelve minutes long, I never tired of the wind-chime like allure of this selection.
The upside of Tears far outweighs my complaints and since it’s easy enough to program out the two cuts I don’t care for, I can recommend it to ambient and minimalist fans with breezy confidence, assuming the listener is not opposed to non-traditional (i.e. not synthesizers) sources for his/her ambient bliss. Because, the majority of this album contains more than a few blissful moments, as well as stretches of artistic creativity and virtuosity that bode well for Mike Fazio’s future releases. - Bill Binkelman
Axiom Of Choice
Mike Fazio has been involved with numerous artists in New York City including Black 47 and Chill Faction. This is an ambientish release from 2002.
The artwork and titles already indicate this to be an artistic and tasteful release. And it is. The opener is a short one moving right into Dorothea Gets Her Wish. Reverb and guitar sounds dominate. Follw up …And Then A Crowd, Impossible To Number… is a prime example of ambient with spoken words, vocoded and an angelic atmosphere. A sample is nicked from Bill Nelson which says something.A Lot Like You has warm piano playing, strings, acoustic guitar and a zooming bass sound, while Where The Angels Crash And Die (I really like that title) is rather experimental and eerie. Lots of things happening at the same time making it come off as rather chaotic. Think of Frippians soundscapes on The Gates Of Paradise. Incidental drum work occurs on this one.
With Bow we are back to serene ambient, complete with the tinkle of bells. Comparisons can be made to the excellent More Than A Just A Seagull by Gandalf here, although Orchestramaxfieldparrish is a bit less melodic. Waiting For Twilight continues on a soothing note with ambientish bass and guitar. Think Fripp, Sylvian and Eno (but mainly the former, as on his That Which Passes).
The final two pieces are of more than respectable length, and are more Soundscapes like in essence. The first of these is The Tears Of Christ, which indeed features only guitars. Music From The Empty Corner is similar but uses what is called a ‘reaktor’ instead. This is more in the line of typical Electronic Music ambient.
A really nice ambientish releases with a bit of experiment, but not overly much. The sound is warm and soothing, as it should be, except of course when the artist decides differently. Main reference point is Fripp’s solo work.
- Jurriaan Hage