Vol. 1, Issue #15 August 18th - August 31st, 2006

CD Review:
Steven Stark --
Light Plays On a Pearl
By: Adrian Fallwell

The musical talents of Steven Stark are far reaching. He has received a Bachelor in Music degree and completed a semester of graduate work in composition from OCU. He’s a fluent cellist, and has performed with several bands and string quartets in Austin and OKC. He is a diverse guitarist, playing with local groups such as The Fellowship Students, as well as performing solo, where he has honed a two-handed technique to carry out both bass and treble parts at the same time. His skill at these instruments, and the mastery of composing them together, comes to full fruition with his newest release, Light Plays on a Pearl, purposefully arranged for only acoustic guitars, cellos and voices. “With this CD, I am trying to approach pop music from a more classical perspective,” says Stark. “When a composer writes a piece, he/she knows the limitations. This is a piece for solo oboe, or orchestra, etc. A songwriter or a band will often enter the studio with every option in the world. Creativity usually happens best under a self-imposed limitation.”

The first thing that hits you when you begin to listen to this album is the presence of the instruments, as if they were right in the room with you. Recorded incredibly well, this sound is derived from the lack of effects used in production. “The album is dry. In a world where everything is very produced, I thought it felt refreshing to hear a 100% dry record. I certainly love effects and my next project may have plenty, but I enjoyed the naked sound when making this recording.” says Stark.

To start the album, an odd complexity is achieved in “Cat at the Mousehole” by weaving simple sets of notes back and forth between guitars and cellos, following progressions that feel befitting, but are not standard. “Dance of Death” then picks up the pace with a folksy 5/4 groove, followed by the CD’s thickest track, “Insufficient Fun.” The title track, the most intriguing in structure, then humbles the album back down, leading it into the reflective melody of “Stumble,” and ending with a beautiful orchestral piece.

Light Plays on a Pearl is constructed loosely as a concept album, following the emotions and thoughts of a person having a near-death experience. Although the subject may sound dark, the feeling and flow of the music and lyrics are actually uplifting and refreshing. The overall theme aspires to cycles, evident, for instance, in these lines from the song,“Stumble”: “I stumble through life, crumble in time. I can’t turn ‘round, ‘cause I’m going where I’ve been.”

Steven is currently organizing a new group which includes Nathan Siler on guitar/vocals and Ewelina Ignacek and Jason Jupiterwalla on cellos. Light Plays on a Pearl will soon be available at Size Records, Rainbow Records, on itunes.com, and at cdbaby.com and other online stores. For more information, you can visit myspace.com/stevenstark or email him at steven@stevenstarkmusic.com.

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©2006 NONCO Media, L.L.C.