Soul Pilgrimage, the epic latest beautifully textured, richly impressionistic and highly experimental set of guitar and synth duets by Tim Reynolds and Michael Sokolowski, expresses a glorious reality we can all find inspiration in: that some friendships and musical partnerships are so seamless and embedded in the DNA that they can pick up dynamic momentum and flow anew even after decades of the individuals riding on separate paths.
In 1992, Reynolds – a multi-instrumentalist best known as the two time Grammy nominated lead guitarist in the Dave Matthews Band – joined forces with veteran composer and synth master Sokolowski to create Common Margins, a groundbreaking set of direct to two track free improvisations for grand piano and hollow body jazz guitar. Rejoining forces when the COVID lockdowns allowed them some spare time, the two expand sonically and conceptually on their original vibe with a fascinating, expansive (and long distance created!) richly textured eight track swirl of darting energies, infectious (and sometimes bubbly) percussion and spacey, meditative atmospheres grounded in and driven by an adventurous exploration of analog and digital synthesis and the innovative power of Reynolds’ guitar.
Not surprisingly, to ensure a general sense of continuity, they fashion a colorful through line from the first project to the present via the improvisational hypnotic piano presence on the haunting, jazzy synth trumpet tinged opening track “Efflorescence.” This is followed by the project’s sweeping centerpiece, a three track, 27 minute “Soul Pilgrimage” suite of wild aural ambition and sensory intensity, starting with the dreamy, liquid-y immersion turned breathy/spacy “The Itinerant Mind,” continuing through the brief and deeply emotional ambient drama of “Under Big Sky” and wrapping powerfully with the infectious, trippy multi-mood swing romp “Freighter Hop.”
The soulful, controlled divine madness sparks off from there, starting with the feeling of laser blasts and sparkling guitar at the start of “Is That You?” through the gently caressing “But For Chance Operations,” where Sokolowski lays a soft bed of space grace for Reynolds to discover what happens when his guitar gently weeps. Fans of both artists can certainly enjoy their intricate excursions and sense of invention as a pure start to finish experience without much explanation. But for the tech geeks who must know how things came together, Sokolowski graciously provides liner notes that go into detail and ultimately express the amazing reality that the final product was much different and more fascinating than either he or Reynolds expected going in.