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Adrift in Wonder by Robert Linton
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/15/2019
A veritable musical sanctuary
There is always something to admire about a new Robert Linton release, he plays the way I only wish I could, his style is fluent and extremely artistic and with every note and chord played, he pulls so much emotion from the guitar.
Linton is back with a new album called Adrift in Wonder and it is this musical journey we must now joyfully take, we start with the moving opus called Gliding the Current. Linton’s choice of titles for this piece is spot on, we are literally on a boat, drifting down a stream, is life but a dream? Who would know and more to the point care, whilst listening to this most wonderful of compositions.
Robert follows that up with the sublime Weaving Through the Waves; this is one of those tracks that will completely melt you with its utter beauty, trust me, as one who lives close to the coastline this is simply perfect in every way. The fluency of Linton as a guitarist must always be highlighted, he may physically perform with his hands, but the music truly comes from the heart.
As we reach track three we find a piece of music that is stunning in its graphic nature and emotive qualities, that is the sublime essence of the arrangement called Traces of Reflection, it also happens to contain some of the most marvellous work on Cello by the master of that instrument in Eugene Friesen. The nature of this piece is simply timeless; it is like watching the sun filter in through the curtains in the early autumn light.
Linton’s relentless drive into a wonderland of tranquillity continues with another slice of magic, can this experience even get any better? Well of course it can, and this simply emotional arrangement is further enhanced by a stunning performance on violin by Sara Milonovich. Gentle Descent is so soft and calming; one may well float down a mountain instead of making a descent. Linton’s sweet and good natured performance on this one contains such a colourful musical narrative.
So we now cross over the half way marker of the album and as we do so we reach a point of sublime natural beauty, this masterful musical narrative is entitled Sifting Through Daydreams and reminds me a lot of Linton’s work on his, Throughout the Autumn Light release, but in a more major key styled way. The alto flute of Premik Russell Tubbs here creates such a tranquil musical moment when partnered with the guitar of Linton, it is really hard to break free from its beauty, and at just under nine minutes long this is the longest track to my knowledge that Robert Linton has ever recorded, but I wouldn’t have minded if it had been twenty minutes long, I was lost in its realms of magic already.
Casting in the After Glow has a richness of musical colour and a great depth to its arrangement that really needs to be appreciated. There is also an almost classical energy about this offering that makes it even more attractive too; this is probably enhanced by the addition of Friesen on Cello and Jill Haley on English horn. The depth here is truly mesmeric in its qualities, and seems to create a sense of warmth to its creation as it plays out, a truly fascinating and intricate offering indeed.
As we move deeper into the weave of the release we come across a fascinating piece called Murmur of Chimes, there is a distinct feeling of solitude here, one that is created by a masterful performance brought into this reality by Linton on guitar. Just to sit and listen to this gentle but purposeful performance is breath taking and quite restful, this is certainly one of those tracks to have on whilst sitting and watching the sun set on the horizon, on a warm night in late August.
Robert Linton’s overall portrait of purpose is now unveiled before us, of course I am referring to the title track Adrift in Wonder. I adore this moment on an album and here the artist does us proud and produces one of his signature musical dishes with the consummate ease of a true professional artiste. Here is a piece that will stop you dead in your tracks and demand you listen to each and every nuance contained within, Friesen’s Cello at this point has most certainly formed a symbiotic partnership with the guitar of Linton.
The last footfalls home can be taken via the natural beauty of the composition Hovering in the Sun Rays, this is so very beautiful and the picturesque qualities of this arrangement are simply outstanding. Linton’s gentle musical narration has such a tranquil tempo it is simply the best offering to listen to if you desire relaxation, without doubt the perfect composition to leave the album with.
Adrift in Wonder is that moment I have waited for since 2016 and Linton’s last release Beyond the Clearing. He is a true master of his art and an inspiration to me as a part-time guitarist, and once more he has brought into our world an album of pure peace and serenity. Linton’s honest and heart felt compositions will manifest for each and every purchaser of this album, a veritable musical sanctuary they will never want to leave, and thus is an album that hand on heart, makes it very easy for me to thoroughly recommend.
Rating: Excellent
The Presence of Wonder by Pam Asberry
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/15/2019
Truly a landmark in the career of pianist
Pam Asberry has been building up to this moment since the release of her debut album Seashells in my Pocket back in 2017, and this could well be the grand stage of piano that lifts her to the very top of the tree in 2019.
This new release has a real upsurge of both energy and experience, and tracks like the beautifully textured title offering The Presence of Wonder really highlight just what an accomplished pianist Asberry is becoming, the track has such a reverence of reality about it.
One of my personal favourites was the almost classical reverie inspired magic of the track Nebula. With ease film score standard and played with the confidence of an artist who truly believes in herself.
This thirteen track album is packed with music that takes you on a wonderful journey through many chapters of musical genius, like the addictive Above the Clouds, or the deeply powerful opus of Surrender. One thing is for sure, Asberry has pulled all the stops out for this release, one can literally feel the energy bristle with each track played.
The album though is balanced like a ballerinas dance across a smoky stage, listen to the harmonious delights of pieces like The Kindness of Strangers, a track blessed with love and tenderness, partner that with Wishes in the Wind, a smooth and charming narrative that would make anyone’s day shine brighter and finally ending this delightful moment of musical time with the composition simply entitled, Now, a perfect ending indeed.
There can be no doubt that this in my opinion is Asberry’s breakout album, whilst Seashells was good, this is outstanding, the time, the thought, the sheer hard work and love that must have gone into creating this album is immense and deserves to be rewarded. The Presence of Wonder is truly a landmark in the career of pianist Pam Asberry and one that for me is very easy to recommend.
Rating: Excellent
Beyond the Purple Sun by Jim Ottaway
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/12/2019
A tapestry of brilliant compositions
There are few musicians who can take you to the edge of infinity and beyond, one of the few is Australian space supremo Jim Ottaway, whose brand of electronic space styled music, literally paints the sectors of the galactic emporium as we listen.
The opening offering sees us breaking free of our space port and manoeuvring into a high orbit of our home world, as we prepare to break free and enter deep space at a slow, but determined speed. Ottaway on Celestial Rainbows perfectly illustrates for us the beauty of space and its vast realms with some sublime synth work that draws into view for us the miracle of the universe.
The mastery of Ottaway’s modus operandi, is that each track is live and improvised, that talent is a rare gift and on the track Lavender Moons we can hear that methodology in full flow, the stylish construction using synths and keyboards gifts us a stunning sight of twin lavender moons to marvel at.
A completely different colour and texture of dimension now greets our eyes as we drop from warp, the ominous deep and mysterious region of the galaxy that is known to but a few wary travellers as the Dark Spaces. Ottaway’s musical database tell us that this region has barely been mapped and the tones of the performance are ones that warn, there is more here than the eye could ever see. Here lies a powerful and atmospheric offering, one that crackles and rumbles with the intent of a black hole manifesting itself, these swirling synths are absolutely perfect for drawing a musical narrative of a final frontier, perhaps the borderlands of space and time itself!
Now one must bear in mind that the artist has had these compositions in his grip for nearly 10 years now, as they were recorded from 2009 to 2019, but space music is timeless and the production quality on each and every track is faultless.
As we approach the half way buoy, our space beacon tells us we have the opportunity to witness the Birth of a Violet Quasar. This long form offering allows us the room and time to explore this expansive opus. There can be no doubt that this piece is genius, I have listened several times now and I am still in awe of its arrangement. The pulsating motif in the first few minutes could well be the actual birth of the quasar, as the feminine divide finally expels the quasar from her galactic belly; the peace that follows is simply sublime. Ottaway on this track has truly excelled, and I am right there on the bridge of our ship watching this occurrence happen.
We explore the deeper regions of what we are told are the Badlands of space, bright flashes in this region of the sector are picked up on our scanners and even via our view screen, as we watch Space Lightning. Jim Ottaway beautifully narrates this galactic area brilliantly with some simply incredible synth work; his textures are matched with some startling effects, ones that add a layer of tension to the whole composition.
Our mission to explore, record, witness and enjoy the mechanics of space is nearly complete, we must prepare to make the jump to hyperspace, but before we do so, we manoeuvre slowly to port to watch the Secrets of the Hidden Stars reveal themselves to us. One by one, with a twinkling of the eye, stars are born and then disappear; as if in a micro second, life and death have been in a simultaneous and symbiotic partnership. This is portrayed to me with such skill and aplomb; the talents of Ottaway and his composure gift us a piece that is the ultimate arrangement of excellent synth work, and a harmonious rhythmic performance that is sheer class to listen to.
We end our voyage now with the title track Beyond the Purple Sun, this is the blank canvas that the artist will paint for us the over view of the concept of his entire work, this lush and colourful pastiche is a marvel to behold and at times one feels a little energy of a David Wright composition here, the pulsating onward musical movement mixed with sublime eddying synths, manifest the perfect composition to dock our musical space ship with.
Beyond The Purple Sun in my view is one of the best albums I have heard from Ottaway, it’s a tapestry of splendid arrangements are all weaved together in an absolutely beautifully produced collection of quite brilliant compositions. If you’re a fan of electronic space music, you would be remiss in not snagging a copy of this for your collection; it is a true masterpiece of just how good this style of music can be, from an artist who clearly knows his own musical soul.
Rating: Excellent
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