John Hornak A Needle, A Feather and a Rope

Calgarian composer John Hornak's latest album is part sonic travelogue, part textural exploration with dubwise effects. Starting innocuously enough with melancholy piano, things toughen up with the buzzing synth bass and swirling echoes of "Mihulka." One thinks it's going to take off further into ambient dub curlicues, but following track "A Slow Dub" brings some Jamaican earthiness back to the sound. A few straight up rock grooves and declamatory guitars sneak into the mix in subsequent tracks. Hornak's greatest strength is his layering of elements. He effectively strikes a balance between sounds that hang in the air and a sense of compositional momentum. However, Horniak is working solo and there are moments that betray this process where one wishes there was a more band-oriented groove and less of a closed-loop feeling to the mixing. If you take his advice and play it loud, the details in the mixing tend to compensate for the lack of zip in certain performances. (Woodcore)