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Cupid Blindfolded by Michael Whalen
- posted by Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano on 8/8/2019
One of the best piano albums of the decade
Cupid Blindfolded is Michael Whalen’s first purely acoustic solo piano album since 1999. Returning to his “unplugged” roots and pouring his heart into every note, Whalen recorded the album on Will Ackerman’s Steinway grand piano at Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont. Whalen claims that Ackerman’s piano has “magic infused into it,” and, in his hands, I think it does. Tom Eaton engineered the album and Whalen produced it. The title of the album comes from a sonnet by Shakespeare and means, essentially, that love is blind...
Rating: Excellent
Before Sunrise by Jeff Greinke
- posted by Astral Jim on 8/8/2019
Amazing portraits of a time when most are dreaming
Eight amazing portraits of a time when most are dreaming. This is what I think of as classical music today, piano, cello, viola, winds, brass, vibraphone, a huge night landscape in the desert, and just a hint of synthesizers are used as a palette to sonically paint these impressionistic delights. A series of instrumental soundscapes examining the longest hours before the light of dawn. I like “The River” because of the uplifting interlocking motion. I like “Mountains and Clouds” because of the layers and details, a very interesting exploration of an imaginary view of a mountain in the darkness as the dawn progresses. Overall, Before Sunrise is a satisfying and thrilling series of chamber music performances with plenty of charm and variety, smiling friends playing great music together. You can hear that it is a real violin bow and the sound of breath in a brass instrument, and it sure makes a difference in the listening experience.
Rating: Excellent
Echo by Chris Russell
- posted by Astral Jim on 8/8/2019
Riding in a UFO through inner earth
Caves are dark, and it can be hard to tell just how big they are. When I listen to this album I imagine riding in a UFO with my new friends from far away, and we are exploring huge caves that have rare and long forgotten treasures hidden in the darkness. This is a fine example of music that is not music, there is seldom a beat, there are lots of strange and pleasant sounds, and it has a compositional coherence, while keeping a mystery about what might happen next. Mr. Russell takes field recordings and found sounds, electronically treating and sculpting them into a form of science fiction, illustrating strange scenes in strange places. I find this to be more satisfying entertainment than the old verse chorus verse business, but there is a place for all these things. On Echo my favorite tracks are “Radium,” which combines dark mystery with a positive bouncy pattern played with small mallets on glass and metal objects. I like to listen to “Varuna,” with its deep oceans hidden in a really big cave, and “Sparse” because of the ancient wandering energy it brings, this song feels to me like an exotic caravan you come upon and travel with for a time.
Rating: Excellent
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