[HOT TRACK]A sublime, tranquil sound

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[HOT TRACK]A sublime, tranquil sound

Had enough of your old stand-by CDs, the few you have stacked on top on the stereo and unconsciously put on first thing you're in the door? Are your old faves beginning to sound like old dogs? That's when it's time for a diversion, time to leave the harbor of pop and set sail on the deep seas of sublime, thought-provoking music.

The sound to go to in such times is served up by the Pat Metheny Group. The jazz guitarist, his longtime collaborator and pianist Lyle Mays and the rest of the ensemble just released their 11th studio album and will be performing in Seoul in the fall.

Metheny and Mays have a boundless musical imagination that infuses their compositions with a spirit that seldom fails to delight. The group has also managed to appeal to both mainstream and underground listeners; while it has racked up several Grammys, local musicians mention Metheny when they want to show that they're into the most important sounds around.

Formed in 1977, the band was initially categorized as a jazz and country band that was taking jazz to a higher level. But the group has always kept listeners guessing - and surprised. "There are so many things that the open-ended format provides that just simply don't exist anywhere else in music for me," said Metheny, speaking of the latest album. The one discernible theme the group pursues is producing a relaxing and groovy sound.

Metheny gathered three new faces for the latest album: Richard Bona on percussion, Cuong Vu on trumpet and Antonio Sanchez on drums. All three were discovered quite by chance; Metheny tracked down Vu out of a telephone directory.

The result is a slightly new spin on Metheny's distinct style - it's controlled, then fun and diverse. Of the nine tracks, most are instrumentals, enabling the mind to drift and interpret messages the way it wants. The disk opens with the mellow "As It Is," which is conducive to a serene Sunday evening at home. "Proof" is the most technically polished, with intricate guitars, brisk piano and strong trumpeting. "Another Life" has the most vocals, and is harmonic and tranquil. "On Her Way" is the most delightful track, conjuring up feelings akin to the anticipation of waiting for a lover to return from a trip.

The art on the CD is noteworthy - it's an unsettling and stirring juxtaposition of real and imaginary landscapes: verdant plains here, industrial clutter under a blue sky there. But somehow it all comes together in a composite vision of peace.

by Chun Su-jin

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