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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:
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Safely in the Arms of Love
By Michael Stribling
Label: Leela Music
Released 9/1/2011
Safely in the Arms of Love tracks
1. Safely In The Arms Of Love
2. Spirit of the Highlands
3. Stormy Seas
4. For Away From Home
5. The Royal City
6. Alchemist's Workshop
7. Byzantine Carnival Parade
8. Veiled Dancers
9. Asian Flower
10. Alone in the Night
11. Kyrie
12. Dark Times (The Inquisition)
13. Miserere Mei
14. Escape and Pursuit
15. Desolation and Absolution
The Seeker of Fortune
I began listening to Michael Stribling's new ambient electronic album, Safely in the Arms of Love and I liked this music after twelve seconds of play. Yes, 12 seconds. Sometimes you can just tell, and I was right. I have reviewed several of Michael's album and this one is literally, quite a departure from his previous work. Usually Michael offers an album of gentle themes of love and promise, but Safely in the Arms of Love, despite its title is a musical adventure. We follow the hero from start to finish as he embarks on his journey seeking fame and fortune.

The music begins with the New Age traveler leaving his home in the hills of Scotland to the tune of Spirit of the Highlands. The is something magical about the tune, like there are secrets in the hills and adventure around every corner. All that is lacking is a central character to do Fate's bidding.

The journeyman find himself in Spain, Far Away From Home. Somewhat lost and in despair he goes to the place where the adventure truly begins. The music portrays the uncertainty that the young man faces and magnifies his doubts. Why did he leave home? What will his future be?

The song the Alchemist's Workshop brought to my mind the painting The Alchemist by Carl Spitzweg. In it there are shadows and light playing with the theme and the wry, knowing expression of the wizard lets us know there are secrets to be learned. That is what the character learned at the elbow of his uncle, the alchemist.

Looking for diversion from his arts the character meets the Veiled Dancers and falls in love with the one he calls the Asian Flower. Her beauty is unsurpassed, her movements the epitome of grace and her heart, like gold from a rare treasure. Our young enchanter falls deeply in love. Sweet, harp-like piano and delicate horns bring the Asian flavor of innate beauty to the music. Just to hear once is enough to know he is mesmerized by this lovely creature.

As in every chapter of history, a love of opposites is prohibited. This time by the Inquisition and the two lovers are torn asunder. One flees, the other is imprisoned. Dark Times (The Inquisition) is a gloomy, heavy tune filled with the ominous strains of despair. Following it is the song Miserere Mei which is a dirge of somber organ and chorus begging God for mercy. The dungeon is cold, wet and dark and in a place so deep that sun light itself fears it. Could there be any possibility of hope?

In the tune Escape and Pursuit there is the shuffle of footsteps, a turn of a key in a rusted lock and a thrilling escape. The music Michael proffers is till somber, but the tempo provides impetus to escape through blackened tunnels, narrow back streets and the early morning gloom.

Miraculously, the lovers are reunited and celebrate their love in the title tune Safely in the Arms of Love. It is in this song that Stribling kindles his signature consonance of promise and love. Gentle, flowing sound soothes and consoles the lovers as well as the listeners as we both recover from an arduous adventure.

This is by far my favorite Michael Stribling work to date. He shows his well-known, strong composition skills and combines them with fine storytelling that makes for a great listening experience. I cannot wait for the next big adventure.
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 5/28/2012
 
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