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Steve Peters: The Webster Cycles

April 9, 2008, 12:00 am
Released on April 8, Steve Peter's The Webster Cycles has laid in wait for years. The piece, composed by a college student Webster back in the early 1980s, was recorded at the College of Santa Fe a decade ago.
Peters, a former Albuquerque and Santa Fe resident, uses ambient sound to create his experimental, classical pieces. The Webster Cycles, a 29-and-a-half-minute continuous piece for wind instrument or voice, is sparser than Peters' later work, but creates a haunting atmosphere that swoons the ear.

While The Webster Cycles wasn't created for any particular instrument, it is played here by Santa Fean JA Dean on six trombones. These instruments sing with their strong brass, each one bouncing off the other so that the piece shines and shimmers and a note hangs in the air or falls into oblivion. There are times when the layered instruments create a hall of mirrors so dark there seems to be no escape, but a gentle tune, a few notes strung together with precision, breaks the illusion.

The Webster Cycles is ambient music at its best. It can easily fade into the background, allowing a visceral experience to seep forth. On the contrary it's intellectual as well, with a narrative arc that tells its story waves of sound, sometimes swelling, sometimes calm.

Though it has taken nearly 30 years for The Webster Cycles to come out of hiding there is nothing dated about it. The Webster Cycles exudes timelessness even throughout the work. It could easily be played in a seamless loop and every note would sound fresh and as if it were written the moment it was played.

The Webster Cycles
Cold Blue Music


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