One of the many things that makes music important and worthwhile and stimulating – old and new, popular, and classical – is functionality. Mention to me “pure” music and I run in the opposite direction. For me the greatest music is that which contains honesty, usefulness, the capability of not just simply entertain, but to somehow shed light on both the miseries and the joys of life. To function, in other words.

In the realms of the music written over the past two millennia, the work of many composers – far too many to list here – resonates for me past their beauty of sound. I perceive behind the great sound and the awesome construct of a Bach fugue or a Mozart overture or a Beethoven symphony the very honesty of intent, and the usefulness I speak of. And, above all, the music of Bach and Mozart and Beethoven speaks to me of things that have personal meaning. So does the music of the protean composer Gilbert Galindo.

Bach and Mozart and Beethoven did not have an enterprising Philip Blackburn and NEUMA to help them contract a group of musicians and get them into a recording studio, with a Ryan Streber and an Erdem Helvacioglu engineering the project, nor did they have the writing chops to elucidate their compositions with insightful liner notes for their listeners in the homes of the wealthy or in the concert halls of Europe. Worst of all, past the non-existence of recordings and sound engineers and producers, those three giants were – none of their fault – part of a stultifying European tradition and Caucasian lineage that lives on to this day.

Listening to the ten tracks that comprise the NEUMA recording of TERRESTIAL JOURNEYS I easily immersed myself in the sounds emanating from my desktop Bose. They were the honest and meaningful sounds of Gilbert Galindo, a Tejano composer whose music occasionally hints – as in the opening Spunk – at his ethnic roots, with now and then a violin figure that I long ago might have just heard in a corrido.

Echoes of the Divine – a one-movement quartet – changes the landscape with a boldly polytonal piece in which Clare Monfredo’s cello wails while surrounded by eerie utterings that seem to come out of some place outside the earth and eventually diminuendo into infinity, powerfully provided by Giancarlo Latta’s violin, Maren Rothfritz’s viola, and Kathlee Supové’s piano.

The Argus Quartet, with Latta, Rothfrtitz, and Supové now joined by Clara Kim’s violin, next take on Let’s Begin, a brief and spiritual piece about life’s journey, filled with smoothness here and roughness there.

Giancarlo Latta again compels one to sit up and listen with several virtuosic moments in the largely atonal Though your footsteps were unseen provided by Galindo’s inexhaustible tonal palette.

Lost in the Caves gives Thomas Piercy’s bass clarinet restlessly pointillistic music that at times is funky, at others disturbingly disorienting, as it inhabits a technical musical minefield.

Imagined Passions gives us a trio in which Clare Monfredo’s cello, Clara Kim’s violin, and Kathleen Supové’s piano join up to depict the ups and downs of its composer’s love life.

Just as Imagined Passions is about the emotional churnings of love, My Soul Waits is a very personal, to be or not to be meditation on the alternative of living the religious life of a Franciscan postulate, played with calm and delicacy by Kathleen Supové.

Not the light, but the fire that burns gives the group Iktus Percussion, composed of Chris Graham, Sean Staser, and Kathleen Supové, an energetic workout that kept me on the edge of my seat as it brought TERRESTIAL JOURNEYS to its end.

Gilbert Galindo gifts the listener with tonal, atonal, polytonal, edgy, bouncy, lyrical, joyful, caustic, sweet, defyingly different and, above all, honest music.

Rafael de Acha © 2023

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