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Tides by Static Shore
- posted by Candice Michelle on 4/29/2017
Static Shore - Tides
Seattle-based electronica duo Static Shore returns with another fantastic release and follow-up to their Life & Love in the Hologram EP, once again showcasing the honeyed vocals of Shannon Alexander set to Eric Smith’s diverse array of synthesizers and digital programming. Comprised of five compositions spanning twenty minutes in length, Tides variably explores downtempo, ethereal and electro-pop styles of music, which proves to be a thoroughly rewarding listening experience from start to finish.

“Money and Time” opens the album with bouncy timbres and digitized layers as Shannon lays her smooth vocals over a luxuriant soundscape supported by a choppy beat and thick bassline. Evocative of the city and urban life, the song sets the mood for the rest of the album, which seemingly navigates its way through a not-so-distant futuristic world. “Friend” follows next with Shannon singing more ethereally over a laid-back disco-house rhythm. Imparting a smooth chill vibe and a warm, summery atmosphere, it’s easy to imagine taking a drive along a coastal highway. “Choose the Calm” aptly winds things down a bit with a slower-paced downtempo rhythm and somewhat distorted effects, as Shannon’s vocals are given subtle overdub effects. “The Opposites” ensues with digital bleeps and metallic timbres supported by a muted trip-hop beat, which further lend the composition a notably futuristic vibe. “Anchor and Sail” rounds things out with pulsating currents and aquatic effects, as Shannon’s subtly echoing vocals are mesmerizingly encapsulated like a submarine deep in the ocean, collectively making this my favorite track of the lot.

Another highly impressive EP, the music of Static Shore is both seemingly underground yet accessible, as well as refreshingly unassuming. With a voice that’s incredibly easy on the ears, Shannon’s vocal contributions serve as the perfect companion to Eric’s enthralling soundscapes, as the duo largely skirts the boundaries of chill-out, trip-hop and electronic dance music. Evoking subtle similarities to bands like Bonobo, Delerium and Purity Ring, Tides strikes a perfect balance between delicate beauty and edgy electronica! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Excellent
The Land Of Nod: Lullabies for the Listless by Richard Dillon
- posted by Candice Michelle on 4/28/2017
Richard Dillon - Land of Nod
Richard Dillon is a Seattle-based pianist and composer who began taking piano lessons as a child that continued through high school. He eventually earned four college degrees with three of them being in music and currently plays piano in his church’s worship band. Working within a musical style that he describes as ranging from neo-impressionist to Celtic, Richard cites other pianist-composers such as David Nevue, Joe Bongiorno and Neil Patton as among his greatest influences. Comprised of fifteen solo piano compositions spanning fifty-two minutes, his latest album, Land of Nod: Lullabies for the Listless, is a lovely collection of broadly low-key, lullaby-like tunes.

“The Land Above the Sky” gently opens the album in the higher register, immediately conveying a sense of innocent wonder as it softly sails along like a ship in the night sky. At about the halfway mark the composition sweetly slips into a variation of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, a universally beloved lullaby that couldn’t be more fitting as the instruction for what lies ahead. “Jouet Triste” (meaning “sad toy” in French) is among the most notable compositions on the album and seemingly alludes to a childhood memory. Here, the delicately wistful lead melody is supported by a repeating up-and-downward climb on the keys throughout. “Kainehe” is another highlight that begins at a slower pace in the lower register, eventually quickening up with a cascading melody played by the right hand, before winding down and repeating again. “La Luna” likewise imparts a gentle melody of quietude conveyed by sparse piano notes, which seemingly recalls that of moon-gazing on a lone evening. The aptly-titled “Sleepyhead” creates a warmly sentimental conclusion to the album with a tender melody that evokes a sense of deep peace and comfort.

Offering a thoroughly relaxing and restorative experience, Land of Nod mostly consists of unobtrusively gentle passages expressed by Richard’s careful and deliberate touch on the keys, as opposed to showcasing more conspicuously fancy finger-work throughout. A most appropriate album to play for soothing the little ones, adults are sure to benefit equally from these lulling compositions as well! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Very Good
Twilight by One Alternative
- posted by Candice Michelle on 4/26/2017
One Alternative - Twilight
Twilight is the eighth studio album by One Alternative, an acoustic fusion ensemble who blend elements of classical, jazz and rock music for an eclectically innovative sound. Comprised of nine compositions spanning forty-three minutes, the album showcases band members Jill Haley on oboe and English horn, and Mark Oppenlander on electric and acoustic guitars as well as bass and percussion, with guest musician James Mclaughlin lending piano and Hammond organ to one track. Four cover songs each by Billy Cobham, Simon and Garfunkel, Oregon and Craig Dobbins are included on the album, along with five original tunes composed by Haley and Oppenlander.

The opening Craig Dobbins cover, “Jojobean”, immediately leaps into a steady groove, with its folk-rock rhythm and guitars leisurely strumming along. A highly enjoyable ensemble piece that mostly retains the spirit of the original acoustic guitar composition, Haley’s classical woodwinds delicately weave in and out of the foreground of the sunny, uplifting tune. Following next is an equally engaging cover of Oregon’s “If”, which places heavier emphasis on the rhythm’s odd-time signature. Likewise highlighting an acoustic guitar and woodwind melody, the composition casually hovers between jazz and contemporary instrumental music. The duo also adds their own twist to Simon and Garfunkel’s “America”, giving this all-instrumental rendition of the originally lyric-sung piece a notably upbeat Americana-rock flavor, while its subtly trippy guitar textures and funky bass-laden groove emit a 1960’s psychedelic vibe. “Sunrift George” is among the album’s five original compositions, which is characterized by cascading acoustic guitar and a toe-tapping groove, as Jill’s signature woodwinds provide a catchy lead melody that could be easily hummed along to. I’m particularly fond of “Roadless Travel”, which exudes a subtle Latin flair with its sultrily flowing guitar textures and tropical-flavored percussion. Billy Cobham’s “Stratus” is the album’s fourth and final cover tune, featuring James Mclaughlin on piano and Hammond organ. Here, a piano-jazz riff intermingles with retro-style organ and electric guitar on what’s easily the most funk-laden, rock-steady composition of the lot. Winding things down is the serenely soulful original, “We’ll See What Happens”, which is characterized by intricately woven acoustics and smooth, rolling edges that highlight some of the album’s most beautifully detailed guitar work.

Warmly positive and easygoing while boasting just the right amount of edginess, Twilight takes the listener on an exciting trip through contemporary acoustic music that’s often laced with funky jazz licks, folk-rock sensibilities and subtle new age overtones. Eclectic and intricate yet down-to-earth, the thoroughly enjoyable numbers on this aptly-named album variably illustrate the rising and setting sun, as well as capture the many picturesque moments nestled in between. Smoothly weaving and winding around a scenic terrain, listening to these infectious tunes can be likened to taking a drive through the countryside with all its unpredictable stops and turns. An amazing ensemble whose elements individually shine throughout, the stellar musicianship on this recording is thoroughly rewarding, as they beckon the listener to join them along for a leisurely, adventurous ride that’s certainly well-worth taking! ~Candice Michelle (
Rating: Very Good +
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