Pat Metheny: Dream Box
Pat Metheny has, by someone’s tally, released more than 50 albums since his 1976 debut, Bright Size Life, including group, solo and collaborative works. Among those, the vast majority have been, at the very least, expertly conceived and performed; some have approached transcendent while others have tended toward the esoteric or even gimmicky. The ones that have held up the best, and the longest, have been those wherein Metheny abandons his cool concepts and simply concentrates on playing truly mesmeric guitar excursions abounding with melody, pieces that offer him a framework for doing what he does best. Dream Box has the potential to go down as one of those in the latter bracket. Its nine tracks were, according to Metheny’s own liner notes, solo jams—played on what he terms “quiet electric guitar”—that he tucked away in a folder on a hard drive and promptly forgot about, until he chanced upon them and decided to turn them into an album. It’s a beaut, he’s right—unadorned and introspective, nearly all of them ballads—and these no-frills pure guitar tunes make for perfect late-night chill music. While it’s tempting to call this background music or something you might put on to fill the silences, that doesn’t quite do it justice; a closer listen reveals rich textures and understated complexities that you’d miss in a casual airing. There’s fragility to this delicate music, but also a subtle orchestral depth tucked away within tunes like “Ole & Gard” and “Morning of the Carnival”—as if another presence is in the room playing along, even as you are aware you know there is not. Metheny states in his notes that there is improvisation happening here, but the line between those sections and the through-com posed ones is often blurry. Whether you just let Metheny’s guitar waft through the air and pay it no mind, or give it a studied scrutiny, it will likely have the same end result: touching your soul.