Available from Aerocade Music:
In late 2013, Gregg Skloff made the acquaintance of keyboardist/vocalist/composer Jennifer Theuer Ruzicka & her musical project Alchymie. Initiated in January 2015, and over a year in the making, their collaboration The Kuiper Belt seeks to evoke our Solar System’s far reaches beyond the planets. Alchymie’s richly detailed arrangements envelop Gregg Skloff’s majestic contrabass tones in atmospheres of grandeur, by turns both ominous and serene.
"The line between the highly respected field of drone and its far less cool cousin new age has oft been smudged. When modern experimentalist Robert Lowe met up with veteran new ager Ariel Kalma last year, they buoyed each other for what became perhaps the most crowd-pleasing release for either party. There was enough sweet synth and water babbling to please the hippies, yet it avoided joss stick chillout just enough for the chin scratching intelligentsia.
"This meet-up between nimble improvising double bassist Gregg Skloff and drifting keyboardist Jennifer Theuer Ruzicka aka Alchymie achieves a similar balancing act. Alchymie has self-released much firmly new age piano based music plus some weirder diversions into strange pop territory. Skloff on the other hand has self-issued heaps of microtonal drone, mostly emanating from his bowed bass via myriad processes. At times his sound has come to resemble the doom of Greek strings/oscillation outfit Mohammad, while other outings (eg duos with bass clarinettist Arrington De Dionyso) veered into free jazz. Fittingly, the title of The Kuiper Belt refers to the furthest reaches of our solar system from Neptune outwards: an ample subject for cosmic jazz, drone, or new age alike.
"Most of this music drifts along at an unsurprisingly meditative pace, but the washes of additional sonic colouring dabbed onto these tracks by both artists are periodically quite magnificent. Skloff’s often rather challenging textures are whipped into more melodic shape, such as the yearning lethargic ostinati on opener “Pluto”, punctuated by Alchymie’s chiming yogic bells.
"Each of the tracks plays out a small handful of elements to an inevitable ritualistic conclusion, such as the modulated vocals wandering around the dronescape of “Sedna” until a final cadence is reached. The two finest moments however are perhaps the ones that divert furthest away from standard droney tropes. Though buried deep in typical reverb, "Varuna" is essentially an intensely somnolent duet for bowed bass and echoey piano. "Salacia" goes the other direction, adding a crunchy rhythm loop behind stereo swapping throbs which neither drones nor drifts, electing rather to be affably perplexing."
— Tristan Bath, The Wire magazine
released December 2, 2016
January 2015 - March 2016, Naples, FL
Jennifer Theuer Ruzicka: keyboards, vocals, programming, arrangements • www.alchymiemusic.com
Gregg Skloff: contrabass • greggskloff.com
Recorded & mixed by Jennifer Theuer Ruzicka
Mastered by Andrew Weathers
Album Design by BMoen @ Etch Image Co.
Photo credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, P. Kalas and J. Graham (University of California, Berkeley), and M. Clampin (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)
© 2016 Alchymie & Gregg Skloff and Aerocade Music