D Bayne works his piano compositions into his field recordings, rather than the other way around. The titles reference the twelve locations: “Metra Locomotive, Ravenswood Station”, “Bourbon Street.” A brilliant streaming page is the best way to engage these compositions for now, until Luminescence Records releases the album on June 5. Each track is linked to a photo and an evocative description of the setting. One learns about the Union Pacific Line while enjoying its clacking; while listening to “1 S Wacker Dr”, one discovers the work of architect Helmut Jahn. The field recordings are magnificent, but the music is a match. Bayne wraps his piano around the sounds, often engaging in a pas de deux. The resonant sound of bridge traffic divides sections of “Michigan Avenue Bridge”. In “The French Quarter,” a street singer serendipitously performs “Amazing Grace,” and the moment itself seems like grace. Bayne’s travels take him from city to shore, café to ferry, and wherever he goes, he hears the environment as music. His natural gift is to bring out the inherent musicality of these sounds by enhancing them with notes, in the same way as spices can help to enhance the flavor of food. One of the album’s finest passages arrives a minute into “East Washington Street at Night,” as the piano responds to the chaos of the streets before finding its rhythm and echoing it once again. On Meditations on Present Time, a blur occurs not only between field recording and music, but between artist and subject as well.

Upon hearing these releases, music fans may find that they do like field recordings after all, while field recording fans may find that music is not always an imposition on their favored sound sources, but can represent a meaningful integration that brings out the best in both worlds.

—Richard Allen, A Closer Listen

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