In ancient Roman mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings, transitions, passages, duality and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, looking back and ahead. It is the main theme around which Traveller CS—aka Cameron Fitzpatrick—’s new album, Janus, revolves. The American composer has found a musical voice that answers his desire to return to his classical influences while maintaining his progressive interest for experimentation.
Janus opens on Dream, that seems to pick-up where Lux had left. Although an immediate wink to the pioneers of minimalism, the composer’s production choices are very rich and surprising—through the use of tabla and oriental percussions. The following piece, SuspendRelease, works on the duality of two rhythmical piano cells that loop while synth waves add a beating structure, progressively taking over the acoustic of the instruments to strengthening the electronic personality of the piece. A first glimpse at the main point of focus of Janus. Reprisal, slightly calmer and more melodic, deepens the relationship between electric and acoustic through an absorbing harmonic progression. Threshold, brings back the pulse of the earlier tracks and gives more room for electronic and percussive textures and polyrhythmic layers that drive the suspense of the piece through anxious strings. The arpeggiator of the episodical The Infinity of Creation reminded me Max Richter’s approach in Orlando—and the way the composer had treated the old and the new. Another textural piece, A Storm Below Zion is driven by an under layer of percussion; with this piece, one can hear the influence Wendy Carlos has had on synth music. The North Rim, brings harmonic familiarity to the ear and brings the level down of tension down, through layers of strings that become progressively brighter and announce Janus, an intimate and simplistic piano piece that closes the album.
The duality of Janus is expressed at many levels: whether between the sounds of the past and the present, or through the instrumentation of acoustic and electric, the exciting and the soothing, rhythm and harmony/melody.
When I reviewed Fitzpatrick’s last project, I had stated that my only regret was that Lux had only scratched the surface. It looks like Janus is finally filling this gap, and the need from the listener. What a great project. The ambivalence of the sonorities, of the approaches and the execution of the pieces as well as the pleasuring inability from the composer to decide between the calm and the tempest, resulting in a musical mini-odyssey.