Acoustic Sounds

Stephan Crump

Slow Water



Stephan Crump "Slow Water"

Label: Papillon Sounds

Produced By: Stephan Crump

Engineered By: Chris Benham with Cat Evers

Mastered By: Scott Hull at Masterdisk

Lacquers Cut By: Scott Hull at Masterdisk

By: Michael Fremer

June 18th, 2024



Composer/Bassist Stephan Crump Contemplates Water From the Mississippi to the Gowanus Canal

transcribing his musical thoughts for strings, horns and vibraphone

Musicians from Handel to Jackson Browne to Philip Glass to The Beach Boys, to name but a few, have had water on their minds, which is not the same as having water on the brain. True, Glass only got as far as the beach, but that's close enough. Add bassist/composer Stephan Crump to the list. He's recorded two albums with the Rosetta Trio, an unusual grouping of bass and two guitars.

Here, he's composed a sixty seven minute long suite for an "unorthodox chamber ensemble" consisting of strings, horns and vibraphone inspired by science journalist Erica Gies' 2022 book "Water Always Wins", a fact not lost right now on the people of south Florida and I won't get into the politics of de Nile currently practiced there.

While water can rage—and given how we've often badly dealt with it, it has every right to—the sixty seven minute long excursion is as the title suggests more of a slow, steady, dare I write immersive journey in which Crump, who grew up near the mighty Mississippi and has lived for more than thirty years by Brooklyn's Gowanus canal, a Superfund cleanup site and as sad and abused a body of water as you're likely to not want to swim in—presents a sometimes melancholic, though often rapturous and sometimes mystery-laden look at water and our relationship with it.

The ensemble consists of musicians active in the Brooklyn, New York downtown music scene including composer/trumpeter Kenny Warren composer/trombonist Jacob Garchik, who has written and arranged for Kronos Quartet, violinist yuniya edi kwon, violist/composer/multi-media artist Joanna Mattrey, vibraphonist/composer Patrician Brennan and of course Stephan Crump.

The combination of strings, brass, vibes and bass and how the suite has been written, arranged and performed reminded me of the extraordinary '90's era chamber/jazz ensemble Rachel's who's albums really should be reissued and better appreciated, as well as some of Sufjan Stevens' compositions, but those are two other musical waterways for another journey.

The inventive musical textures and harmonies produced by the ensemble on the relatively simple two note riff that is the five minute "Eager", which begins side two is a piece I found myself drifting back to for repeat performances.

Rather than doing any kind of "play by play", it's much easier and instructive to point you to the embedded YouTube video below that presents "Outflow" the fourteenth of the work's sixteen pieces. It's more "ambient" in nature than many of the others but it give you a good idea of the work's general "vibe" no pun intended.

Outstanding sound helps make this a truly pleasurable listening experience. Crump's bass is very well-recorded, rich and deep with well-defined transients, as is the dark, often mysterious and lurking Vibraphone. The engineering produces uniformly fine sound. All of the instruments have been recorded skillfully and placed on the stage in service of Crump's arrangements, which produce textural, harmonic and rhythmic surprises around every musical bend.

Scott Hull at Masterdisk cut the sides. You won't care how this was recorded. The sound is as you would want and wherever this was pressed, all four sides were quiet and stayed out of the way.

Yes you'll have to get up a few times to turn over the records in this double disc set, but for a late night final selection before shutting off your system and calling it an evening, Stephan Crump's Slow Water is a fine way to end on a serene but deep and consequential series of notes. Highly recommended. You can purchase the record here

Happy to say that the Gowanus canal clean up has gone well enough for water fowl to return.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: PS 28241


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 140 grams


  • 2024-06-18 08:52:57 PM

    Come on wrote:

    Yes! Ordered! Thanks!

  • 2024-06-18 11:02:00 PM

    Mark Ward wrote:

    This sounds like a wonderful album.... I wanted to quickly mention another incredible water-inspired album by Philip Glass, "Aguas de Amazonia". The work was originally a ballet, based on the different rivers in the Amazon, and performed and recorded in collaboration with the Brazilian group, Uakti. It is hands down my favorite work by Glass and I listen to it frequently. Highly, highly recommended.

  • 2024-06-21 09:08:29 PM

    Come on wrote:

    Listening to it now. Really a very nice, calm album with great sounds and ambiance.

    But I also have a tip for you Michael and the folks here: Abdullah Ibrahim’s new album “3” on Gearbox was produced AAA and 45 RPM on record one and contains more or less the same tracks recorded DDA on record two in the same space just with audience this time. His music is great anyway. The AAA version immediately sounds more natural and 3D in bass (among others) for whatever reason.