Cymbalom Solos by Michael Masley on Morning Trip / Telephone Explosion Records (the album artwork is a colour photograph of Michael Masley playing a cymbalom; the artist name and album title are printed in an uppercase white serif font at the top-centre of the sleeve)

Michael Masley - Cymbalom Solos


  • £26.99

There are constellations within the grooves of Cymbalom Solos. Innumerable points of light, rendered audible in glowing, radiant sound. There are entire worlds too - undiscovered, yet familiar - both terrestrial and celestial. There are moments of quiet comfort and exultant discovery. And all of it conjured by one man with a handful of ancient and invented instruments, recorded mostly-live, with precious few overdubs. 
Michael Masley has been a fixture of Berkley, California, since he arrived from Michigan in 1982. Even today, he remains a common sight, working as a street performer - catching the attention of passers-by as he summons otherworldly overtones from a coterie of arcane instruments. This is how he met fellow east-coast transplant and musical voyager, Barry Cleveland, in 1983. Cleveland was enraptured by the sound of Masley’s wildly innovative bowhammer cymbalom. 
The cymbalom is an ancient instrument, similar to a zither or hammered-dulcimer - originating in Eastern Europe in 1874, but with primitive early examples dating back as early as 3500 BC. Yet Masley’s approach to the instrument was wholly original. Masley replaced the two traditional cymbalom hammers, with bowhammers - an invention wherein he fitted each of his fingers with it’s own combination hammer/bow device, which allowed him to both strike the strings, and bow them like a violin. Outfitted with his bowhammers, Masley was able to wrest startlingly new sounds from a centuries-old instrument. 
In 1985, after performing together for a couple years, Cleveland produced Masley’s first solo endeavour, Cymbalom Solos. With the help of Cleveland’s timely production, Masley’s technique reached its zenith. His complex and beautiful compositions combined elements of Eastern-European classical, new minimalism, and celtic/folk music, yet the end result falls squarely within the world of new age kosmiche. Music of the spheres, conjured by earthbound strings. 
Masley estimates that he sold tens-of-thousands of cassette copies of the album over his years of performing. And now, Morning Trip has pressed Cymbalom Solos to vinyl for the first time ever. It is an album of startling, imaginative beauty, by a brilliant American folk artist. 


  1. Soleil 
  2. Sleepdance On Leaves Of Water 
  3. Music To Look For Something Lost By 
  4. Bermuda Trapezoid 
  5. Survival In A House Of Darkening 
  6. Advice from the Angel Of Thresholds 
  7. The Sea As A Moon-Launched Mirror 
  8. Childbirth In Cave Art 
  9. Soft Evidence 




also available on Morning Trip Records: 
Daniel Hecht - Guitar   LP 
James Newton - Flute Music   LP 


browse collections: 
Unclassical & Modern Composition collection 
Classical & Early Music collection 


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