Review Summary: When you're given a minimalistic approach to emotion conveyed through music you're left with nothing short of art.
From the instant “Alberta” chimed through my headphones I knew this was going to be an album that defined a time of my life.
Comprised only of a man and his vision for recreating the images of awe inspiring places with his lullaby-esque key work (with a few minute, synth drones here and there), the first thing one will notice about this album is simply the quality. You can hear the composer plodding away at the keys, the actual key itself being pressed down in an audible fashion. It is evident from the beginning of the record up through its entirety that the revelation of this album is not to show dazzling finger work bouncing up and down the keys, speed blurring the distinction between the simple black and white backdrop, but rather to paint a picture with each track. While some albums blur the barriers between tracks, leading us into the next without showing sign of the last one’s finish, this record is wholly different.
It’s best to consider each one of these pieces of music as a mini symphony of its own. Each one paints a picture of sorts, whether it be upbeat and vibrant or dim and fading. “Alberta” starts us off nicely, with notes that resemble something almost angelic, resonating in a constant and unbroken rhythm. But let it be noticed that once this track’s two and a half minute lifespan is up, much like a stream of consciousness piece of post-classical work, it’s onto the next emotion, without skipping a beat.
While “Bergen” is almost grim in its makeup, though nowhere near menacing, “Bowen” sprinkles through the speakers as almost a mythical sounding work, conjuring images of mystery, but hope at the same time, almost as if to recover from the last track. Skipping ahead, “Dane Street” shows the subtle, soundtrack worthy compositions this artist is capable of, being nothing less than happy rhythm to tap your toes and pop your lips to. While “Fort McClary” dabbles in an almost ambient moment, “Grass Rides” has the potential to bring tears, “Safe Harbor” brings us back down to a thoughtful level of almost monotone proportions (metaphorically speaking), and closer “Saranac” is truly the harmony reminiscent of the end of a journey, the album as a whole comes off as something different from anything else.
Whether it be the obvious stories the composer is telling us which are deeply personal in a way much deeper than words, or the fact that I consider this album to really encompass the overall tone of Fall as a season and a time for life to slow down and let the beauty sink in through all the senses; I can’t pinpoint. But Sputnik has asked me to rank this on a scale that ranges from average to great to excellent, and picking classic was hardly a decision at all.
Dubbing this an album to put on while you’re spending time with your pals is hardly justified, but to call this a classic that will never leave your memory is certainly not a far cry from the plausible.