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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Journey of Tears by Monica Williams, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/11/2018
  High Tech. High Touch by Wendy Loomis, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/11/2018
  A Trick of the Wind by Erik Scott, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 8/2/2018
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What We Hold Dear
By Timothy Wenzel
Label: Coyote Floe Music
Released 4/28/2017
What We Hold Dear tracks
1. Murmuration
2. What We Hold Dear
3. Appalachian Waters
4. Ascension
5. A Spring Day in Autumn
6. Hypnotized
7. Incantations
8. Moon Dance
9. In A Little While
10. On a Quiet Night
11. Desert Dream
12. Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea
In the Arms of the Heart
The cover art of Timothy Wenzel's latest offering, What We Hold Dear makes his theme quite obvious. In the background a vicious tornado is about to destroy an old farm house, thunder beams are all around, and nothing can save it. In the foreground is a mother with her arms around her children. I can imagine her saying, "It's only a house. We have each other." Family, friends, loved ones, truth, patience, forgiveness, they're all here in Timothy's music as are seasons, stars, and lots of sky. Timothy Wenzel, when not playing atmospheric keyboards and composing, is a scientist. Like any good musician, however, he puts in science to work, taking his cues from the natural world all around him. 'What We Hold Dear' is 12 tracks of ambient/contemporary music layered in emotion and blended into rich, lyrical instrumentals.

With a skillful sweeping violin intro by Josie Quick, Timothy offers his first cut called Murmuration. There are many meanings to the word murmuration; heart sounds, low speaking tones, a sound that the water or winds make. The one connotation that comes to my mind is watching a flock of a million starlings playing dot-to-dot in a dusky sky. That is a murmuration. Millions of separate entities come together and act as one. Such is the sentiment of Timothy Wenzel's first track. Piano and flute dance in the sky of the mind, gyrating, soaring, and gliding as they make sketches that only the heart can imagine. No flutter of wing here, only the pure sound of harmony.

What We Hold Dear is a song of family, of love and about the emotional strands that bind them together. The music resonates with the love and warmth of that mother embracing her children on the cover art. It gives voice to all the other little things that are unsaid, sometimes unnoticed but yet are a big part of how we love. The long commute every weekday. The hard work in the blazing sun. The late nights when we'd really like to be home, but they're depending on us. That is what we hold most dear.

Wenzel sometimes gravitates into the world of Celtic music and the tune, A Spring Day in Autumn is one such departure. To some, the title might be perplexing, but I understand it perfectly. There are days, and frankly, I've just experienced one, where the day before it was sunny and balmy. But the next day it feels like the leaves are all gone, and the last vestiges of the sun's warmth remains. Hiding just around the corner might be old man winter. It is a day of shirt sleeves and celebration. Quick's accents with her violin make the mood nostalgic while Wenzel's piano begs for just a little more warmth.

Jordan Schug's cello deftly opens the tune Incantations. This is one of Wenzel's more serious pieces, with a brooding score. It is a swaying, mesmerizing score. Words unheard are aimed at the heavens, as an atmospheric entreaty. Incantations, prayers, and chants can all do wonders if they are accompanied by enough faith.

On A Quiet Night is one of my favorites on the album. It translates musically into everything that I like. A black sky with a starry display, the warmth of midsummer and the sense of peace it entails. The piano is the lead in this ballad and the song conjures up nocturnal dreams of serenity. Listening to this many times, I felt I was experiencing the night in a unique manner. I was alone, but not the one there. You have to hear this otherworldly tune to understand, but you will.

The last track is called Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea. It is one of the more complex tunes on the recording and one of the best. The orchestration is well balanced and melodical as Timothy dives into the sea of imagination. Over many parts of the planet there are green seas, Belize, Spain, Italy and several more. Every one is a special place, a place of magic and wonder. So how could the skies there be anything else but turquoise? Wenzel's music reminds us to enjoy these places and enjoy the special moments that they create.

Timothy Wenzel has just the right phrasing for the journey of passion he has produced. His mixture of the natural world and the emotional world seems to blend seamlessly into a work that is listenable at any given time. His instrumentals are focused, inviting, but most of all, expressive.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/19/2018
 
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