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What We Hold Dear by Timothy Wenzel
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 5/1/2017
A slice of musical brilliance
It seems that I have been on a long journey with the artist, he first came into my musical life with a Coalescence of Dreams back in 2012 and after riding with a Distant Horseman, I am once more at the gates of a realm described by the musician as, What We Hold Dear.
The release contains the wonderful violinist Josie Quick, Jordan Schug (cello) and Sarah Joerz (vocals). So once more let’s tread the musical path and gaze up at an astounding sight called a Murmuration. This first track gives Wenzel a fine opportunity to ground us in the new concept of the album, I have only seen this occurrence once, a flock of birds drifted in a dance like quality across the mountain range at the back of my home, it was both stunning to watch, very fluid and certainly dance like in performance, and that exactly describes the opener by the artist.
That proud moment of the title track is up next, I was already impressed by the album cover, depicting perhaps a family holding each other while a tornado is about to destroy their home, or is there more here, listen to the song, What We Hold Dear.
We have a very emotive and deeply moving track that you can feel the sadness way down in your heart, but there is one facet that shines through, and that’s hope, a beautiful haunting performance by Wenzel and an emotionally charged one by Cellist Jordan Schug (cello). In my personal opinion, I rate this to be one of the best pieces I have ever heard from the musician.
We now move onto a completely different tune for us to enjoy, as we go on a mountain trail to the Appalachian Waters. Here is a piece that has a real organic quality about its construction, almost folk like at times, a sun kissed walk through the woods in music, as we follow the birth of a mountain spring into a fully grown river.

Ascension is up next, the tempo slows down to an almost dream like quality and it seems we are gifted the opportunity through this piece to rise above our lives and look down at the progress from above. The lightness of this composition and the very smooth performance from the artist give me the feeling of an Ariel flight. Note the change of intent around half way through the piece; it’s both clever and mesmeric.
On the arrangement A Spring Day in Autumn, we have an intriguing number, one that appears sullen at times, then transforms into a re-energized motif, the piece seems to have that sense of interplay that runs through the composition constantly. The performance reminds me a little of composer Holland Phillips in style, and for me this is another clever track, we seem to go from dark to light, from walking to dancing, a completely fascinating piece.
We find ourselves dear reader at the half way juncture, at this crossroads we come across a track called Hypnotized. This could be the theme for a love song, this could be something so beautiful it’s dangerous, we must ask ourselves one more thing, is this what we hold dear? A beautiful performance by Wenzel, the keyboards here are played with certain fluency and confidence, and the slight percussive beat and tempo adds an extra layer of fun to the composition.
Now for a piece that builds and adds layer upon layer of musical genius, it’s called Incantations. The flute, keyboards and Cello re-invent themselves, like a spell being cast and weaving its re-created patterns of awareness whilst doing so. The performances by Jordan Schug (cello) and Quick on violin is simply and utterly sublime.
There is a real childlike, wondrous eyes wide open feel about this one; the piece is called Moon Dance, no not the Van Morrison song. Here Josie Quick partner of Tom Carleno (Perpetual Motion) creates a silver lit dance of the dark hours, one that manifests with Wenzel’s keyboards, an almost fairy ring of a composition.
There is something a little dark about this next piece, it’s called In a Little While. The tentative nature of this arrangement is rooted in a reflective moment of time. Wenzel’s style and creative cleverness here seems to have manifested a track that has a real defined need, a musical yearning of a wish to be complete again perhaps?
We’re now very deep within the weave of the release dear constant reader, and as such a new composition called On a Quiet Night is now upon us. This is another one of my favourites from the new release, it’s slow, but perfectly played arrangement caught my emotional attention. A sense of peace can be found here, but there is also something a little Celtic about its construction as well, that for me added a whole new layer to what is a really tranquil, but colourful song.
Our penultimate offering is called Desert Dream and yet another favourite of mine, there are many it seems. Here is a powerful piece that grows and coalesces. The guitar strum and flute added to the depth, and then the violin and percussion created a sense of shift in tempo. There is a real sense of a Lord of the Rings style performance here, especially when the ethereal vocals of Sarah Joerz joins the dance.
I wonder now where that time went, I gaze at my computer and note dear listener that we have arrived at the last piece on the album, and it’s called Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea. A gentle and smooth piece to end with and that’s always good. Quicks Violin is memory filled and a more dream like peace filled offering you could not wish to find, to end the album with.
What we Hold Dear is another fine example of the very best of contemporary instrumental music, it’s an album rich in colourful performances and composition, the creative mastery with which this album has been brought into life with is blissful to behold, and on this new offering Timothy Wenzel has manifested a piece for ever mood, for every emotion, in times past, present and future, your next step dear reader, is to add this slice of musical brilliance to your ever expanding collection, you will not be disappointed.
Rating: Excellent
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
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