JUSTIN WALTER

From All Music:
Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Justin Walter records dreamy, evocative music for trumpet, electronics, and EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), an obscure, difficult-to-master wind-controlled analog synthesizer often associated with fusion and new age music. Drifting somewhere around the intersections of jazz, ambient, and modern composition, Walter’s otherworldly music fluidly shifts between different tonal colors and moods. While generally warm, hazy, and shimmering, his music occasionally reflects darker states of mind. His work has precedents in the Fourth World music of Jon Hassell, as well as other artists associated with ECM Records, but it’s utterly unique, and its originality is refreshing.

Walter first became known for playing trumpet in Ann Arbor-based Afrobeat fusionists NOMO during the mid-2000s. He also worked extensively as a session musician, appearing on recordings by other Michigan bands such as Saturday Looks Good to Me and His Name Is Alive, in addition to working with other artists such as Iron & Wine and Sinkane. In 2009, he began issuing solo recordings, starting with Music for Science Filmstrips, an EP containing his first EVI compositions. This was followed soon after by A Call to Arms, a jazz album recorded with pianist Rick Roe, bassist Kurt Krahnke, and drummer Pete Siers. In late 2011, Walter released another EP of EVI pieces, When We Were Young. Early in 2012, he released Stars, an album of jazz compositions for an octet including trombonist Vincent Chandler and some of Walter’s NOMO bandmates. Much more experimental than A Call to Arms, the album was conceived over the course of three years, and recorded by Warren Defever at Detroit’s UFO Factory.

Also in 2012, a double-cassette of Walter’s EVI compositions and improvisations (simply titled Walter) was issued by Fred Thomas’ label Life Like. Shortly after, a single-sided LP titled Dark Matter, containing some of the tracks from the cassette release in addition to other pieces, also appeared on Life Like. This directly preceded Lullabies & Nightmares, Walter’s debut album on Kranky, recorded with drummer Quin Kirchner. Walter then formed Bambi Kino Duo with Brian Case (90 Day Men, Disappears). International Anthem released the duo’s See Heat on cassette in 2015. Walter contributed EVI and keyboards to Colin Stetson’s Sorrow: A Reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony, released in 2016. The following year, Kranky released Walter’s Unseen Forces, a solo album of EVI and trumpet explorations. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi