Characterized by notable increases in musicianship and emotional heft from 2005’s Kaleidoscope, Ben Cosgrove's new record, Empty Rooms, guides the listener on a thirteen-track journey through instrumental settings that vary from the lushly orchestrated closer “Anchor and Crane” to “Armory Road,” a short piece for solo ukulele
Empty Rooms brings with it a focus on program music; each song is tied to something “larger than itself,” as Cosgrove points out in the liner notes, be that history, place, literature, or philosophy. The centerpiece of the record for instance, the bleak and sprawling “Many Waters,” is a tribute to the four Central Massachusetts towns that were flooded in the 1930s to create the Quabbin Reservoir. To compose the piece, Cosgrove traveled out to hike all around the Quabbin, interviewed the members of the local historical society, and spent months extensively researching the towns that were lost and the families that were displaced.
As on his previous recordings, Cosgrove plays nearly all of the instruments on the album, in addition to composing, producing, and designing, but listeners will be pleased to find trumpeter Reynaldo Santana returning to play on three tracks. Other guest contributions by drummer Ben Burns and violinist Molly Siegel can be heard on “Unfolding,” a richly textured instrumental pop tune.
These pieces have a style and sound unique to all of Ben Cosgrove’s work. This album not only finds him honing that sound to a finer degree than ever before, but also using it to make some powerful artistic statements; Empty Rooms features his finest work to date.
“Distant Music,” “Come Down,” “New Salem,” “Many Waters,” “Unfolding”