Review from Jam Magazine, June 7, 2003

Kristen Miller
Later That Day

by William A. Huffman

Kristen Miller is not your average everyday local musician venturing out for a debut CD. Later That Day is unlike anything any New Hampshire musician has ever recorded. First, she's a cellist. Second, Miller does not sing.

While Miller's cello is certainly a focal point, it shares the stage. Her compositions are cerebral and spiritual. In truth, this is more of a duet than a solo album, though Miller wrote each piece. Her cohort Scott Kessel uses more percussive instruments (traditional or not) than I care to list. The duo create mesmerizing tribal music. I think of only two other artists (not from Africa or Middle East) that have attempted and succeeded in such an untraveled stylistic soundscape - Peter Gabriel- (score for "The Last Temptation of Christ") and Dead Can Dance.

Nickel Indian" opens the CD and really generates a dark mood: The multiple layers of cello playing are orchestral and hypnotic. "West Meets East is more tribal and somehow within the darkness of the bass and baritone sounds emits a hopeful strain.

The common perception that a cello is strictly a long-bowed bass instrument is ripped apart throughout this CD, whether it's the harmonious, yet distinctly disparate ranges of the opener or the low bow layered with a high finger-picked accompaniment of "Elegy For Five Lost Hours."

Miller is a master of her instrument, knows how to get what she wants from it, musically and emotionally. Feelings and moods easily come through her compositions. And I specify "compositions"; "tunes" would not do her (or them) justice.

The musical cohesion of Kessel and Miller is proven with "Cello Sticks," an improvised piece during recording the CD. Suffice to say, Kessel creates a wonderful melody on a cello by hitting its strings with sticks. Awesome.

I've heard a number of NH instrumental albums over the years, and only Randy Armstrong's Dinner on the Diner has such a lavish and worldly sound as Millers Later That Day.