Composer-Cellist Peter Gregson's Fervid Midnight Rendezvous, "Touch" / by Doyle Armbrust

It is an exquisite thing, when music raises a mirror, impelling the listener past his last defense before the beautiful, or despairing, or anticipative, or terrible, or emboldened thing is felt. At its basest form, it is emotional manipulation, but in the case of Peter Gregson’s "Touch," it is emotional bolstering – the kind that keeps us aural junkies itching for that sonic bump when we’re feeling all the feelings. For his fourth studio album, the composer/cellist strips down to a modest cadre of analog synth, strings hailing from Inscape Chamber Orchestra, cello, and piano, but what arrives through the speakers are voluptuous orchestrations of intimate, ruminative melodies.

Listening to "Touch" in full, 9.1 Auro-3D surround sound (a signature of label Sono Luminus) is a superlative experience, but even on a stereo or good set of headphones, the luster of Gregson’s cello lines, the attractive warmth of the piano, and tender swells of the strings are in panoramic view. Take the second track, “Time” – an album highlight – in which the piano and synth sequences carom around the ears, erecting a bewitching filigree before a tidal surge of solo cello descends on center stage.

While the harmonic movements across "Touch" tread familiar ground, there is a particular human-ness to the delivery apparent throughout, perhaps due to the fact that Gregson performs live to the electronics, rather than stacking disembodied tracks. Devotees of Jóhann Jóhannsson will revel in this fervid midnight rendezvous, this curling up beneath the covers, this windswept ferry crossing. Whether the listener’s current state of mind lives in the melancholy, the nostalgic, the sanguine, or somewhere in between, Gregson offers a fertile soundtrack here, delivered in vivid detail. Listen to the entire album below.

- Doyle Armbrust