Colorlist / The Fastest Way To Become The Ocean

The Chicago based Colorlist is comprised of crossover jazz duo Charles Rumback and Charles Gorczynski. Both multi-instrumentalists, Rumback mans percussion, bells and melodica, while Gorczynski plays saxophone, numerous woodwind instruments, synthesizers and harmonium.

‘The Fastest Way To Become The Ocean’ is a four track EP recorded especially for Serein. Once again joined by collaborators, the EP features guitarist Jeff Parker of Tortoise on ‘Nine Lives’ (A2), while Liz Payne lends vocals and melodica to the closing track, ‘What We Have Left’ (B2). The tracks were mixed by long-time Colorlist cohort, Josh Eustis.

This work finds Colorlist at their very best - during the twenty-six minutes of run-time we are led through a kaleidoscopic ocean of sounds and ideas. Opening track ‘Light Conditions’ begins on an optimistic note, all feather-light woodwinds and gently brushed snares, the mood is open and care-free. But, like mist rising on a clear day, punch-drunk harmonium drones and haunted sax phrases permeate the air and hint at something darker, more sinister at play. In the end, balance is restored, and we are led into the second piece, ‘Nine Lives’ feeling a sense of resolution.

‘Nine Lives’ is a beast of a track. At just under ten minutes in length, it builds from a growl of low bass and drums like waves crashing on the shore. This tumultuous opening is slowly organised into a labyrinthine but perfectly organised series of repeating phrases, steadily falling in and out of phase with one another. Parker’s improvised electric guitar playing contrasts with the purposeful repetition of the other instruments. The track continues to build as more and more elements are added to the mix, until, as if reaching some kind of critical mass, tension is broken and the piece resolves with wave upon wave of blissful melody. It’s fitting that this epic track closes the first side of the record - many will doubtless feel the benefit of a prolonged period of silence in order to reflect on this breathtaking piece of music.

The perfect antidote to the sheer impact of the pieces preceding it, ‘Coming Into Sight’ opens side B with an almost hymn-like solemnity. Harmonium is accompanied only by the distant roll of drums and the quiet chatter of birds, it’s not difficult to imagine a boat roll in off the ocean bearing a loved one home to shore. The piece, which also falls just short of the ten minute mark, builds until the moment feet hit dry land again, the homecoming heralded by hoarse screams from Gorczynski’s saxophone and flurries of thunderous percussion from Rumback.

‘The Fastest Way To Become The Ocean’ ends on a high with the short, upbeat closing track, ‘What We Have Left’. This piece sits slightly apart from the others due to the presence of vocals from Liz Payne – a first for Colorlist and a welcome addition.