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Album Review: The Magic Pipe EP
Jesse Brown and The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
Cover image of the album The Magic Pipe EP by Jesse Brown and The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
The Magic Pipe EP
Jesse Brown and The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
2020 / Synesthesia Media
12 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Magic Pipe EP is Canadian pianist/composer Jesse Brown's contribution to The Outlaw Ocean Music Project. Inspired by Ian Urbina's best-selling book, The Outlaw Ocean, Brown describes his approach: "As I read through the stories of each character, one of the most prevalent emotions I felt was a deep sadness and shame for humanity’s behavior. As such, I wanted to create an EP that characterized the bleakness of that shame and the imperativeness of these issues. At the same time, I tried to convey a sense of hope and urgency for action." The book itself is an amazing journalistic chronicle of many of the horrors and travesties that occur on the world's oceans every day. Urbina spent about four years at sea documenting with both words and field recordings the countless crimes against vulnerable people as well as sea creatures and the environment. Jesse Brown's five tracks were recorded on his custom-felted Heintzman upright piano.

The Magic Pipe begins with "In Pursuit," a lively piece that refers to some of the "chases" on the high seas trying to catch polluters, human traffickers, poachers and more. "Lives Lost" is very open and very sad, remembering those who have died, many of them murder victims - beautiful and deeply emotional. "Magic Pipe" is much lighter but is still quite poignant - my favorite of the five tracks. One of the many things that blew me away in the book was Urbina's accounts of fishing nets that can stretch out as far as 40-50 MILES, catching any sea life passing their way. "Pulling Nets" describes some of the activity aboard ships both letting out the nets and bringing them back in, fully loaded. "The Sea Shepherd" refers to the international, non-profit marine conservation organization that engages in direct action campaigns to defend wildlife and conserve and protect the world’s oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction. The piece expresses a sense of determination as well as a feeling of moving forward, and brings this very effective album to a close.

The Magic Pipe is available digitally from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Learn more about The Outlaw Ocean Music Project at https://www.theoutlawoceanmusic.com/about. You can also explore the vast library of music there, sample the music by hundreds of artists, and watch a wide array of videos about each album. And by all means, if you haven't already, read the book!
September 26, 2021