Rainbow is the new album by Robert Stillman. To the extent that music, especially that which is wordless, can describe life, Rainbow serves as a window into the past four years of Stillman’s own: a time of birth, death, love, and learning, and through these things, a new willingness to look the world in the eye.
The album is structured around dedications: to his wife, Anna; to his late daughter Ruth, and his second-born daughter Romilly; to the landscape of his adopted home in East Kent; and to his blue station wagon, Warren.
After two recent projects with his ensemble The Archaic Future Players (Station Wagon Interior Perspective; Leap of Death), Rainbow represents a return to the loner working methods of 2011’s Machine Song, with Stillman building up intricate arrangements from multi-tracked recordings of himself on all instruments. Rainbow also marks the return of Stillman’s tenor saxophone, a sound not heard in such a prominent role in his music since his 2006 debut, Robert Stillman’s Horses. With these trusted methods and tools, Stillman explores new stylistic territory, reconciling influences as disparate as the Brazilian psychedelia of Milton Nascimento with the uninhibited poetics of Ornette Coleman, the “Social Music” volume of Harry Smith’sFolkways anthology with the early electronic Klangstudie of Herbert Eimert. Stillman’s singing voice is also heard for the first time, in a recording made during a walk with his daughter through the field described in the song’s lyrics.