In Seattle in the early ’70s, a young Kerry Leimer — already showing a predisposition to surrealist art — fell under the spell of rock experimentalists like Can and Neu! and Faust. Their commitment to minimalism inspired him, and he soon began writing his own compositions, eventually incorporating tape loops and figuring out ways to heighten a song’s impact by reducing its scope. The fruits of his labor were revealed on Closed System Potentials, the album he released on his own Palace of Lights label in 1980. While the album was modestly successful, Leimer recorded stacks upon stacks of songs that never saw the light of day.
A Period of Review, a new compilation from the outstanding RVNG, Intl. label, aims to change that. The album contains a whopping 30 songs, all of them gorgeous and riveting. “Gisella” is a good indication of Leimer’s unique gift. A single piano figure pirouettes in front of a gently-pulsing organ, creating a simple melodic foundation. A handful of other elements enter and recede, but the song’s beauty is in its minimalism. It’s as mesmerizing as an old Harry Smith abstraction, colors and shapes tumbling tenderly forward, soothing and hypnotizing.
A Period of Review is available May 13 on RVNG, Intl.