Spencer Pope – The Dark The Light
The Dark, The Light
Spencer Pope’s The Light The Dark is an introspective, instrumental album featuring Pope on piano backed by guitar, bass, drums and horns. If you’re thinking jazz, think again. Certainly, Pope draws influences from the genre. The one solo piano track on the album, “The Last Beautiful Thing,” is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s solo improvisations. The overall feel of the album–ominous, passionate, and full of existential angst–might remind a jazz fan of Taylor Eigsti, The Esbjörn Svensson Trio or The Bad Plus.
But Pope is making a different kind of music altogether, not improvisational, but composed and specific. He vamps on simple harmonic structures to build momentum and tension, and does so with a level of expertise that speaks to his experiences touring with jam bands. The result is music that is relaxing yet urgent: a sonic portrait of a man grappling with fundamental, maybe un-answerable, questions. Still, Pope matches his darker side with a lighter one on songs like “Sharon and Richard,” an upbeat groover featuring a funky pentatonic guitar lick and a warm, overdriven Fender Rhodes. So don’t confine Spencer Pope with the label of Jazz. He will captivate you, not with virtuosity, but with compositional precision and emotional poignancy.