Milton Cross – Light in the West

January 01, 1970

(Digitalis Industries)


Milton Cross is the stage moniker of Tony Cross, member of
San Francisco (mostly) instrumental group Tarentel, and fans of that band will
understand immediately what Cross is doing with Light in the West—returning to Tarentel’s original pre-rhythm days
and creating a similarly veined mass of clanking bells and metal, droning
harmoniums, violins, and celli, and sparsely plucked guitars.


Sparse is the key term here, for even when the music reaches
its densest moments, it never totters over into the kind of post-rock lightning
that Tarentel has been reaching for in recent years.  Instead, Cross shuffles through a kind of gauzy
texture of bowed strings and distant clanking bells, most often eschewing
rhythm entirely and instead relying on a kind of organic ambience that mixes
with field recordings (in fact, the liner notes tell us that much of the
project was recorded in California’s
Marin Headlands).


Light in the West mines similar musical geography as improv-folk supergroup Badgerlore, Scott
Morgan’s Loscil project (especially his Submers)
release, and, perhaps most importantly, the Michael Krassner-led Boxhead
Ensemble.  All of these groups work the
rich vein between melody and improvisation and they all do so with a sense of
clarity and vision that that makes for great and cohesive albums.  Milton Cross’ Light in the West is on par with the best of those and it stands as
one of the very best—and here comes it’s logical genre—improvised ambient field
recording folk projects released to today.  Bravo Milton Cross.  Bravo,


Standout Tracks:
“It’s Been Almost a Year,” “Light in the West Where It Will Always Be Morning”

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