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Book of Silk

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 10, 2004
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 10, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Artemis Records
  • ASIN: B0002IQK86
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,573 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David F. Reddig on August 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
The Book of Silk is an ancient Chinese manuscript that contains the first definitive comet atlas, which was an attempt by early astronomers to make sense of the world. For thousands of years, the appearance of a comet was thought to be a portent of impending calamities such as earthquakes, draughts, floods, plagues, or the fall of empires or kings. In the case of Tin Hat Trio, comets have come to represent disasters already transpired; the trio recorded the album only months after the sudden drowning death last year of Mark Orton's wife, singer-songwriter and artist Lauren Orton. Her presence is palpable throughout the album.

While Book of Silk isn't all shades of gray (there are several up-tempo pieces), I will agree with another Amazon reviewer that its overall mood is a bit more somber than previous efforts. "Osborne Ave." is a mournful and elegiac solo piano piece that features a beautiful, low-brass reprise. "The Longest Night" is equally melancholy. Carla Kihlstedt's "Pablo Looks Back" is a brief but beautiful nod to Sergio Leone, complete with whistling, and the avant-garde music box creak-and-moan of "Elliott Carter Family" would be at home on many a horror film soundtrack if not for the quiet little melody tucked away near its conclusion. The final two songs serve as a kind-of yin and yang response to Lauren's tragic passing. While "Lauren's Lullaby" is a bittersweet, bluegrass-tinged eulogy, "Empire of Light" (dedicated to Lauren Elizabeth Orton), with the sweet and plaintive vocals of Carla Kihlstedt, has a mournful but looking forward mood. The song conveys the sense that Lauren is looking down on the proceedings and smiling.
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Format: Audio CD
Tin Hat Trio is one of the few groups whose CDs I buy on faith. I don't bother reading reviews beforehand; I'm happy to pay my money, since they haven't let me down yet. On "Book of Silk," the music is a more subdued (though not always quieter) than their past efforts. Like their other recordings, this CD pulled me in with its compelling compositions and stellar musicianship. The songs are varied, with songwriting credits divided fairly evenly between Orton, Burger, and Kihlstedt.

For those unfamiliar with Tin Hat Trio, the instrumentation includes guitar/pedal steel; piano/toy piano; and violin. They are often categorized as jazz, though I think it's more fair to say their work defies such pigeonholing (and I write this as a jazz fan). As I understand it, all three musicians are classically trained, yet they're experimental in their work. At the music store where I shop, a music clerk mentioned to me that whenever Tin Hat Trio's music is played in the store, a number of customers ask what they are listening to and purchase one of the group's CDs.

Undoubtedly, much will be made of the fact that "Book of Silk" is their first release since the very sad death of guitarist/composer Mark Orton's wife. In an interview with Orton that I read, he says that he penned the disc's first song (again, a melancholy piece) before the tragic event. Rather than draw unfounded connections between Orton's loss and the music on "Book of Silk," I think what's worth noting is that once again Tin Hat Trio has bested its previous efforts. The addition of the harpist and tuba player are lovely as well. I'll just end by saying that if you ever get the chance to see Tin Hat live (something I've had the pleasure of doing half a dozen times), do so. They are exhilarating and amazing in concert.
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Format: Audio CD
The melancholy, accordion tinged sound of the Tin Hat Trio vividly brings to mind one of my favorite films, Waking Life. The groups tango-seasoned jazz creates a colorful palate of sound for the listener to enjoy. The accordion sings, the violin sobs and the guitar sets a beautiful background for the two other melodic instruments. While these tree represent the main instruments in the trio, we hear everything from piano to dobro and even some low brass instruments on this album. The music weeps and spirals with emotion. The listener even gets a taste of some prepared piano and guitar with "Eliot Carter Family" which provides a striking contrast to the mellow piano and brass of the preceeding track "Osborne Avenue." Every track provides its own sense of color and emotion to the album.

The only qualm I have with the album is I would like to hear a little more melody and or soloing from the guitar. It primarily acts as a background instrument and while it is essential, the instrument tends to fade into the woodwork. Though, there is a little more six stringed exposure on the spirited "Things that might have been." Regardless of this, The colors and melodies served up by the Tin Hat Trio create a wonderful picture.

Personel:

Rob Burger- Piano, Accordion other keyboard instruments

Carla Kihlstedt- Violin , Viola ect.

Mark Orton- Guitar, Dobro
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I discovered this group last year when they played small but very attentive house in Philly. I'm slowly buying up some of their recorded stuff and thoroughly enjoying it. This one is an earlier recording with just the trio (they have since added a fantastic reed player in Ben Goldberg).

The musicianship alone is worthy of your support. However, it is the ideas and the colors in the music that has kept this stuff in heavy rotation around my house. It is a rare gift when an ensemble can make some of the saddest melodies so rich, full of life and absolutely irresistible.

You may first notice that Carla Kihlstedt gets a throaty goodness out of the violin. This is both languid and singing over the muscular guitar of Mark Orton and the brilliance of Rob Reich on piano & accordion. The two pull the trio together with an ever inventive pulse. Some of the tunes are filled out with a small brass section that comes and goes and helps make this a soundtrack for a life lived, loved, lost and found. I'm hooked!
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