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Stranger Days by David Wright
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/12/2018
Created by an artist who clearly knows his art
David Wright has been known in the music industry as one of the leaders of quality electronic music for decades now and it is an absolute pleasure to get to review his latest release Stranger Days.
The opening piece sets the scene for the entire album perfectly; it hovers like a massive sentinel above us, it is entitled A Moments Contemplation, it is as if we are seeing a vast vista of sound, time and space open up before us, but before we set off on this musical journey, we must survey all the lands we will cross before doing so.
Re-Connected is just that, it reconnects us, to a reworked version of the track originally released back in 2012 from the album Connected; more depth and texture can perhaps be found on this composition, while we forever float into the arms of the next piece called Beyond Glass Mountains, where we will travel back even further to 1993 to find the original inspiration from the Ocean Watch release, but now it features the talents and skills of Carys, bringing it right up to date with such style and panache.
I remember the release of Walking with Ghosts; it has several memories for me personally and on Walking with Ghosts Fantasy we have a track that retains the same feeling of the 2002 release, but adds an almost Pink Floyd styled ethic about the arrangement.
This next one is packed with memories for the artist as well and dedicated to his friend and musician Klaus Hoffman-Hook, who sadly passed away before this was finished, here David completes the smooth tones of Krystal Halls, with a delightful percussive beat and a stunning guitar combing to manifest an excellent slice of classic EM.
My personal favourite is up next the simply gorgeous Always Tomorrow. In my opinion the flow and fluency of this track is simply sublime, this is one of those pieces that one feels was created in the moment, it has a certain lightness of spirit to it; if David Wright ever wanted to release a single from the album, this would be my suggestion.
Wright has brought us a double album of such quality and depth that I am sure will appeal to more than just electronic music fans, it will certainly appeal to Tangerine Dream followers as indeed this next piece was designed to do, it is called Once Upon A Dream, this was Inspired by the band, and here Wright has created a masterful offering of perfectly paced EM to literally dive head long into.
Now we have a moment of musical explanation here, as you will see from the album that there now follows seven separate tracks entitled Stranger Days parts 1 through to 7.These compositions were originally designed as one piece and is the title track broken down into sections. I am sure that as you graze through them you will find your own favourites, from the dark and deep labyrinths of Part 1, to the exciting vibrancy of Part 4, or maybe even the moody ambience created by the end piece Part 7.
This is a double CD as we have said, so let’s cross the threshold now into the second album of many memories, and as we do so we are gifted a piece that I am sure many fans will drift back to 1995 with, Rysheara is a stunning track that must be a real fan favourite. For me at times we are perhaps drifting into the realm of Mike Oldfield and who else but Code Indigo, now that’s an interesting combination
Ever heard the DJ say, “Well lets slow things down a little now” we get that right here with a new version of the original 2015 piece Call to Me, from the album Beyond The Airwaves vol 2. This must be one of the sultriest tracks that Wright has ever gifted us, the addition of singer Carys adds to the mood greatly as we drift on the tranquillity of the moment, what a beautiful reworking indeed.
Dave Massy makes his appearance felt on another Walking with Ghosts offering, this time it’s a Chilled Mix version; a gentle construction, but one with a true onward purpose that can be most certainly found here, one that is extremely chilled, crafted brilliantly and cleverly put together.
Dave Massy and Carys combine again to keep us in the chill out zone with this next piece entitled Melt Away. Cary’s vocal skills here are extremely effective at creating with Wright and Massy a wonderfully tranquil, yet light composition of great quality and serenity.
We can now push away the clouds and as we do so we see a Harmonic Heaven, this comes in two parts; the first section Wright manifests a perfect soundscape for the subject matter as if we could be literally pulled into the continuum of the universe itself. In Part Two the artist then literally takes us by the hand and walks us through this wonderland of EM, with such a level of fluency that only a grand master of the synth could do.
The Tangerine Dream effect has inspired many musicians and artists over the years and on this next two track offering Light Source Parts 1 & 2 we have another example of how Wright has been inspired by the genius of the man known as Edgar Frosse, just close your eyes and enjoy the moment.
Cast your mind back to 1991 and what springs to mind? The end of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, the end of the KGB or the beginning of a new era for David Wright with the superb album Marilynmba, such memories indeed, here Wright reworks the track Colours of the Night for our delight, and succeeds with every nuance and note played, what a stunning and beautiful piece indeed.
It’s amazing to think we have travelled far and deep within the realm of electronic music with David Wright, but we must now end this voyage of plenty, however we can do so with great elegance and flair, by listening to the next four tracks as one, entitled, The Forgotten Symphony, Movements One through to Four. Fellow musician Robert Fox started this mammoth opus with the artist, but sadly after Fox fell ill, it was down to Wright to finish off this work. This is a poignant collection of musical movements that I actually found quite emotive at times, they contained some of the finest work, in a sensitive styled performance from the artist, what a truly memorable and graceful way to leave the album it is as well.
Stranger Days by David Wright could be classed as a moment of electronic music majesty in motion, it is also a release packed with many memories and moments of musical time and created by a man who is at the top of the tree in his own genre with ease. Stranger Days by David Wright is an album that all fans of EM and contemporary instrumental music must have in their collection at all costs, one that has been created by an artist who clearly knows his art and loves every second of it.
Rating: Excellent
Touched by the Stars by Richard Pouw
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/7/2018
A shot in the arm the industry needed
When you gaze up at the night sky, what do you see, do you truly comprehend what you gaze upon, do you resonate with the vastness of creation, and are you Touched by the Stars?
Richard Pouw has created an album of music to allow your senses to be taken into another realm entirely, the amazing backdrop of symphonic sounds on the opening piece, which also happens to be the title track, Touched by the Stars says it all, it is as if we have literally lifted off into space, this is an arrangement that has an amazing amount of power and intensity within it.
On Reflections of Imagination we have quite a mournful structure to begin with; the keyboards create a texture so light and airy, while the pertinent percussion builds upon this delightful oasis of artistic endeavours. There is also a mysterious nature about this offering that makes it rather addictive to listen to.
The piano of Pouw now manifests something truly beautiful on the piece Light of Serenity. This gentle and flowing composition is carefully interwoven with an additional flute that only creates an even more sensual feel to the offering. The clever crescendos and build toward the end of this track made this one of my personal favourites from the release.
There is a certain Lord of the Rings feeling to the piece The Coronation, perhaps we we’re in the hall of the mountain king himself. The powerful narrative here is a delight to listen to, and reminds me at times of the work of David Arkenstone. The tempo is superb and the grand percussive beat brings a marvellous cinematic feel to the production, suspense, action and intensity, all of these qualities can be found in this quite breath taking opus.
In an almost mirror image of the last track, we have the steady, but ever onward offering of Stardust Wanderer. The piano here is splendid in all that it does, and creates a melody that will not get out of my head, and amazingly in all but just over two minutes or so long.
At the half way marker we come across Eclipse. The combination of Piano and the symphonic nature of the composition are simply stunning, but all kept perfectly contained in a well-structured arrangement that builds with purpose, and weaved a tale of light and dark for us all to enjoy.
There is something about Underwater Worlds that I adore, I guess though that living on one of the possible sites of Atlantis that it would peak my interest. The dramatic energies here are once again evident, and the strings manifest something quite stirring, there is a slight mournful repose as if one were perhaps looking at a long ancient city under an ocean so blue and complex.
The Pillars of Creation are always going to be an opportunity to excel, and I am so glad the Pouw has created this track with this title header for us to float within. The Eagle Nebula is a place so vast it would be hard for us to even comprehend, but the artist does this great justice, I simply fell in love with the organ segment at the 2 and a quarter minute mark, it is a slice of sublime genius it has to be said.
I found The Final Embrace, so very moving, I have had a few of these in my time, the last opportunity to hold, feel and touch the humanity that is about to leave this plain for good. This heart on a sleeve performance here is literally breath taking, and will move you deeper than you ever imagined possible; the tempo and power of the piece is so imploring and emotional, that it almost breaks your heart to listen to it.
Strangely I journeyed the other night and found myself in an oasis of purple light, just floating, drifting, without sensation of weight or pain, without human form, just pure energy. It took some time to get used to, but this composition, Levitation, is easily the musical interpretation of that out of the body moment with ease, simply peace filled and easy on the senses.
Our penultimate offering is now upon us and called Cosmic Consciousness. The rhythmic energies of this piece are a clever addition to a pretty ambient floaty composition, one that reflects the subject matter with great clarity. The melody here is also quite picturesque and adds a delightful colour to this charming musical narrative.
Our last portal of tone, sound and passion is entitled Tribal Earth Meditation. This is rather cleverly the longest piece off the release at just over six minutes long and from its very opening structure, offers up a vast landscape of music for us to all wonder within. The percussion and multi instrumental nature of this arrangement deliver a wonderfully multi-cultural style of a composition to end with.
Touched by the Stars by Richard Pouw is the shot in the arm the industry needed as we head towards winter, the fine and fully flowing compositions are both powerful and sensitive and create so many delightful mental vistas for us to all enjoy; listening to Touched by the Stars is like traveling without moving, as all around you each of the pieces from this release seem to fit so well with our lives. Touched by the Stars is a dream filled offering created by an artist who clearly is in tune with his musical muse.
Rating: Excellent
Where Giants Roam the Earth by Milana Zilnik
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 11/7/2018
An enjoyable solo piano experience
There is a world far removed from the reality we know here on our plain, in this dimension sound and music are the only languages, each variety of wildlife, plant and flower all communicate musically, the wind blows summer from the trees in a perfectly pitched tone, and the rain falling is the percussive beat of this most amazing of realms, this is the reality of harmony, and the world in which pianos grow like giant trees.
I hope that moment of fantasy will highlight perfectly for you a world of musical fancy, which is the mood set on this quite beautiful release by Milana Zilnik and her trip to the most giant piano of all, this world is called Where Giants Roam The Earth, so let’s pick up the pace and allow ourselves to accept this Invitation to the Dream. This is a perfect beginning for us, a confident and calming performance can be found here on this simply dreamy piece, one that allows us to flow naturally into the entire concept with ease.
The deepness of the piece Where Giants Roam The Earth, the title track, is up next, this is fantastical, but glorious in its construction. The magical fluency here by the artist is something to enjoy greatly. Zilnik, in just two tracks has proved herself the master narrator on our journey, and this empowering and colourful gift is an exciting place to immerse ourselves within for a short while.
As we move ever deeper in this picturesque vista of a musical land we come across a truly amazing offering entitled Summer Tale, we tread with care in the forest as not to disturb the natural abundance and harmonic undergrowth, and we find we can do that with ease with this next piece, this composition is simply sun dappled, but also so varied in its arrangement, I find the uniqueness of Zilnik’s performance delightful, she builds with ease and eases back with such charm
The artist’s journey to Germany see the largest upright piano in the world is revealed to you right here in this offering and called The Piano As Big As A Tree. I remember once going to the Tate Modern in London and gazing with awe at a piano that was hanging from the roof of the gallery, but I can only wonder at the emotions that the artist must have felt when gazing up this giant. Milana Zilnik portrays perfectly a sense of awe and splendour within this piece as she reflects her sojourn with this king of pianos; there is simply everything here, depth, passion, quality of light and a freshness that brings a whole new energy to a constantly creating opus of brilliance.
The longest piece off the release is up next at just under six minutes and is one of the most descriptive offerings off the album, it’s entitled Hidden Inside, this is one of my favourites from the album, it contains a nice mixture of minor and major, which manifests for me a reflective tone to caress, but there is also a gentle narrative that is so well performed within the weave as well, personally I find this composition deeply moving and will be revisiting it again many times over.
Autumn is one of the hardest months to deal with for some; where I live now in Cyprus it is delightful and one can enjoy its charms with a smile; here Zilnik has created something quite interesting in Autumn Tale that may appeal to cross over genres too. There is once more a moody undercurrent to the arrangement, but the performance at times touches both the New Age style, a slight hint of light Jazz, perhaps and even a little original droplet of the classical can be found here as too. This is without doubt a classy soundtrack to the season of mists and falling leaves.
The intensity increases with this next piece called Burning; one can feel a certain apprehensive and cautious energy within the piece, one that almost become haunting at times, but I must say that Zilnik has a style on piano that is so inventive and this is indeed a track that is similar to watching a fire burn slowly from the bottom to the top, a very clever performance will be found here indeed.
Interesting how I mention the word haunting and we now find ourselves at the musical portal of our next track called Haunted Waltz. Let me set the scene, the light of a dying day drifts its tendrils around the torn smoke damaged curtains, and a jazz like tune from an old worn and tired looking piano caresses the air, while on the dance floor two star crossed lovers from bygone a age dance to the song as if this is all they know, and perhaps it is, they move to the charm of the waltz and then slowly disappear into the last shards of sunlight, on this fading autumn afternoon.
From dawn to dusk, from autumn to winter, this is where we cross the threshold into the dark winter months, the harsh times, and the coldness of days rolls on. Winter Tale by the artist however brings a lighter side to the season, one that sparkles with a performance that is akin to watching snow fall in sunshine.
As we reach this next arrangement called Walking Away we find a musical depth that makes us realize that at times we just have to stop, reflect on what we’re doing in our lives, are we making the right choices and if not, we have to simply walk away. For me this song reflects just that, it is both emotive and sad, but also filled with an empowering sense of reality, that it is time to move onward and upward and we can do that, by listening to this enabling composition.
Solitude is sometimes what we all crave for, we may not like to admit it, but in each of us we have felt that moment, that need, so this is our divine moment of self-reflection and wonderfully portrayed so by the artist. This has a sombre mood, but also has a sensitive energy about its arrangement which makes it also most meditative at times.
Time now to once more grow, we have reconnected with our true path by dealing with the emotions that winter offers, and now we can once more be bathed in the warming light of a Spring Tale. This is one of the most fascinating offerings off the album, there seems to be much here to enjoy, from the traditional new age style to an almost Debussy styled classical motif.
As we reach the penultimate piece off the release we find the energy picking up pace, the tempo on Catching Up has that perfect sense of movement about its composition that draws you in willingly, and this breath taking opus is akin to someone pulling back the curtains in your bedroom and revealing a brand new sun kissed day brimming with hope and potential waiting outside.
It’s time to open the key to the final door of the album in this last piece called Coming Home. The perfect ending arrangement can be found here and a performance that reminds me of other solo piano artists, one in particular that I have just reviewed in Doug Hammer. This is such a brilliant presentation, one can almost imagine looking out of the window and seeing your loved one wandering home after a long time away, just crossing the old bridge on the horizon and now your heart begins to quicken with joy and relief, this magical song creates those feelings of, soon all will be as it should be, as you have finally come home.
Where Giants Roam The Earth has to be the most enjoyable solo piano experience for me for a long while, Milana Zilnik’s performance is unique but also honed and crafted in the forges of the fires of the traditional new age styles, and mixed perfectly with other genres to bring forth an album that has to be one of the most fascinating and all-encompassing voyages of solo piano I have listened to for years. Zilnik has a creativity that is so inventive and colourful that it is a pleasure to reside in its tones for an eternity.
Rating: Excellent
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