Contemplative Guitarist Tom Caufield Expands His Sonic Palette on Breakthrough Release ‘Things I Heard While in the Womb’
“Tom Caufield is a great American songwriter, period, end of story. Lend him your ears.” – David Wild, Rolling Stone
Los Angeles - Tom Caufield is a contemplative guitarist with an uncommonly melodic style, and though his music shares traits with ambient music, one still walks away humming identifiable melodies that float in an effortless dream-stream, built into traditional verse-chorus-bridge structures. “I grew up on the popular rock, pop, folk and soul of the times,” says Caufield of his musical boyhood, “so even when I make contemplative mood music, I can’t help but infuse it with a strong melodic storyline.” That’s good news for listeners who love relaxing music and memorable hooks.
Blessed with an ineffable touch on the fret board, Caufield’s 6th release ‘Things I Heard While in the Womb,’ represents a breakthrough, bringing to fruition the promise of his earlier albums and giving birth to something wholly unique – his own distinctive take on what can be done with the modern, acoustic guitar based album. After four sparse, contemplative, ‘guitarist alone in a cathedral’ albums, Caufield desired to capture more of the depth of engagement on offer from the side-long tracks of classic ‘70s prog-rock and ambient albums (think: Brian Eno’s ‘Music for Airports,’ and Mike Oldfield’s ‘Ommadawn’), and so created and released the 22 minute single ‘Rust of the New Babylon.’
“I thought of my favorite artists, and reimagined the context,” says Caufield. “I wondered what it would sound like were Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana to grab a couple of acoustic guitars and trade licks, after hours, backed up by ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ era Pink Floyd.”
The whole thing works – with blues and Spanish tinged phrases dancing like lace and pain over a soft, natural, wooden bass, brush-kit drums, Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ backing, creating a groove that sounds like ‘giant seaweed swaying.’ In addition to a larger sonic palette, Caufield also discovered another crucial element in making a sound all his own: improvisation, adding this to his already formidable compositions skills.
“Music to slow the relentless pace of life” – Bruce Gall, Atmospheres/One World Music
“My foundation, my most crucial starting point, is that I try and emulate the dynamics, cycles and patterns of nature,” says Caufield, “and reinforce the idea that metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics are simply different languages expressing the same idea. It’s hopefully, all together, a way of giving a voice to the inarticulate speech of the heart.”
The new album journeys farther into this sonic territory. From the 24 minute opener “Waif Among the Reeds”, one is swept into a seductive dreamworld of spiraling, elegant, Spanish, pop, folk and blues tinged guitar, composed and improvised soloing, accompanied by creamy, retro Moog synthesizers and Arp synth strings. The phrases echo the minimal Zen restraint of Weather Report era Wayne Shorter – more suggestions than finished melodies.
The poignant reverie ‘Rubies on Fallen Leaves’ and epic ‘Palace of Broken Mirrors’ round out the collection.
Citing Harold Budd, Mike Oldfield, Tony Banks, Vangelis, & Brian Eno as his primary musical models, Caufield admits to relating more to ambient music artists and their aesthetic ideals than other acoustic guitarists, who he feels are “more structured, roots-based or conversely, adventurous and explorative than I’m aiming to be.” His main influence as a guitarist is probably Carlos Santana, and “the simplified Andres Segovia pieces that were assigned to me when I first took lessons.” He also cites as influences, and offers admiration for Will Ackerman, Ralph Towner, and Pierre Bensusan.
Caufield’s first four albums all charted in the Top 20 of Zone Music Reporters’ Top 100 Radio Airplay Charts, with his debut, ‘The Slow Dance of Time’ making the Top 10. His music has been featured on John Diliberto’s syndicated NPR program ‘Echoes,’ and is a regular feature on Music Exchange’s streaming network ‘Soundscapes,’ in addition to receiving airplay on over 50 airwaves based stations nationwide.
“There is a level of emotional clarity in this music that is a rare find.”– RJ Lannan, Zone Music Reporter
Caufield’s aim is to convey emotion as directly as possible, yet leave lots of space for listeners to find room for themselves inside the music. Eschewing busy arrangements and speedy passages, his compositions are minimalist, sparse and create an experience that is relaxing, yet involving.
Offering a chill blend of creamy, retro yet modern music that will amplify the sound of your heart and soul, Caufield’s sound is a 21st century take on contemplative instrumental music. Wooden and natural, peaceful and evocative, ancient yet modern (i.e.: timeless), accessible, yet hinting at life's complexity, Tom Caufield’s music will transport you to a place you probably don’t visit enough - your deeper self.
Watch Tom Caufield in Live Performance Here:
Video:“The Weakness That Leads to Strength”:
To purchase Tom Caufield’s “Things I Heard While in the Womb”:
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