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Solitaire by Neil Patton
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 5/7/2018
Carefully crafted with a deep sincerity
I have fond memories of the work of Neil Patton; back in 2015 he released the very classy Between Shadow and Light, so it was great to see another album of his land on my desk some three years later. This work is called Solitaire and from the sounds that usher forth from my player, it looks like Patton is back with another winner.
The opening piece The Turning Page, I found quite poignant; I have been on a life long journey of discovery myself and listening to this extremely melodic arrangement was like listening to the sound track of those life moments and events.
Redemption is up next, a soulful composition of great quality and honesty, this sense of reality in music is like the ever resounding tone of hope reverberating across the universe, perhaps an anthem for us to never give up.
I found Walking On Air a fascinating opus, I like my peaceful moments of reverie, but I can also find moments of blissful energy when I am at one with nature and by myself, this exciting and exhilarating composition does it for me, the interesting thing about this offering, was that I found a fascinating combination of musical memories lying in here as well, with hints of Keith Emerson and Elton John speaking to me at times.
The Shepherd is one of the most tender performances your likely to hear, there is a certain ambience created by this track that is so calming, one can with ease watch The Shepherd tending his flock, in which ever way you wish to think of it. This has to be one of the most delicate performances I have heard for some time.
Up next is a charming piece entitled Lacrymosa, there is a certain classical element to this track that is rather appealing, one that flows with an abundance of confidence throughout the overall composition.
The Muse is a journey through time and tide, the performance is played with a true level of confidence and brightness about its construction. Sometimes the journey is hard, sometimes easier, but there are always twists and turns along the way which need to be navigated, ones that are so wonderfully highlighted musically here.
At the midway point we come across Where I Can’t Follow. This starts in a flow of utter ambience, then with care and attention Patton increases the energy, the piece manifests itself into a glorious anthem of emotion and power, and then pulls back like a summer tide, into its soft and humble beginnings.
As we traverse into the latter half of the release, we touch base with a beautiful arrangement called The Calling. Patton’s performance here is creative and also very fluent; there is a certain reverence about the energy of this offering that gives it a touch of musical truth, that feeling that one has found after a long struggle alone on their chosen path.
I adored the piece Twilight, the narrative of creating a composition of this time of day fascinated me and Patton has done a superb job at manifesting something so redolent of this moment of time. This manifestation of brilliance draws an attractive vista across a night time horizon and fills it with a truly empowering musical performance, this is without doubt one of my favourite tracks off the release.
Strength is one of those compositions that draws upon the emotions of the mind, it creates from a well of sadness, a musical ladder from which to climb out of the malaise. Listen to this one; it evolves into a passionate piece, one that contains such a beautiful build and progression, this really has such a compelling narrative, which makes this my personal favourite from the collection, this is solo piano at its very best.
The title track is up next and Solitaire brims with the expectancy of a new day, from the warm roots of someone who is quite comfortable within their own company and energy. This arrangement does indeed have a wonderfully light feel to it, but in my view it also carries with it a sense of personal self-assuredness about its composition, a wonderful musical statement of sorts, performed with a sparkling intensity.
Completely opposite to the preceding track, Adrift has a singular sense of aloneness about it, being one who has bouts of wishing to be adrift from the worlds chatter and mundane trivia, I can relate to this composition, it is as if Patton is creating these musical dimensions, perhaps to manifest a peaceful sanctuary of the mind, a place that he is adrift in the realms of his own energy.
Bound has a delightful sense of musical retrospectivity about its construction, this is simply a pleasure to listen to, Patton’s performance here is played with such a level of emotion you can feel it pour from the speakers, the melody is so lush and imploring, and yes, another favourite of mine.
The penultimate offering is the very sweet and rustic, Back Porch, this is a simple little song, one of fond memories and times spent with people on days that will be remembered, but perhaps never repeated.
The last track off this fifteen piece release is called Gethsemane; the location is an urban garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the piece here portrays the area where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion. The intensity of this offering is amazing and will musically speak to you regardless of any religious beliefs; you may or may not have. The performance here is staggering in its sense of passion and sadness, and at well over eight minutes long is easily the longest track I have ever heard Patton perform, but each second is most certainly worth it.
Solitaire is an album of oneness, being comfortable in your own company, but are we ever truly alone? Each of the tracks on this release have been carefully crafted, they flow with intensity and an openness of a deeply felt sincerity. Solitaire is an album that fans of the solo piano genre will adore, and enjoy for decades whether by yourself or with friends.
Rating: Excellent
Starlight by Michael Logozar
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/19/2018
A space in time for us to float within
There is a memory from deep within a moment that was so fractured for me, which created a pleasant segway to peace at a time when I needed it most, it was back in 2013 and the pathway to sanctuary came from the artist Michael Logozar and his album Time. From that moment on I became entranced with his work on the piano and here some 6 years later I find myself reviewing Starlight, released last year in 2017 and find that another port of musical solace can be found through his blissful performances.
This musical voyage of sight and sound begins with the sweet and very charming narrative of the opening offering entitled Sunrise to Sunset, in an amazing five plus minutes, Logozar takes us through the day until we achieve the vista of a glorious sunset in tone at the end.
The artist follows that up with the colourful and moving opus Twilight Peace, this is so very gently played, a calming sense of ambience will be found here and a soft and gentle refrain will ease those cares and tribulations away.
On Starlight, the title track, we have that opportunity to reveal the whole projects energy in one glorious piece and Logozar does himself proud with a quality performance on a composition that sparkles like the night sky itself. There is something very melodic and reflective about this composition, it also has a certain timeless quality about its construction as well.
Time now to walk along the Promenade with the musician and this musical moment of magic is a real gift. I adore how Logozar’s performance creates a gentle narrative of movement, we can visualise through the song, two people perhaps walking hand in hand on a summers day, while love blossoms all around.
I found the next piece Dancing Lights a fascinating arrangement, there was so much to listen to here. The scene set by the artists’ stylish composition is vast and in the mind’s eye one can see the dancing lights of a million suns moving in there radiance on the horizon of time itself, there is also a wonderful fluency about this track that will totally enhance the experience.
Dream of You was very well named and this caring and delicate offering is so carefully played, its dream like energy will entrance you with its musical charm. I found the performance by Logozar also manifested a fantasy like dance, perhaps a meeting of souls divided by the miles, meeting for a symbiotic connection during a night time meditation of sorts.
One of my favourite pieces from the release is up next and called Midnight in the Garden, the mystical and magical naming of the track allows the mind to suggest a certain imaginary. I remember as a child, escaping into the garden at midnight, back then it was something truly enchanting seen through the eyes of an innocent youth, and in parts this is exactly where the narrative of this composition takes me once more.
We now move past the half way marker and find ourselves at the door of the next offering called Nocturne, and a more serene song you will not find, this is so very beautiful and flows so expansively through a myriad dream world of night time star filled skies, this is solo piano at its true ambient best.
On Moonbeams that creation of vast ambient soundscapes continues. The mood however is deeper, it is as if we have moved far further into this realm of our night time perambulations than ever before, I found this offering so compelling, it had an essence of reflection that was quite addictive, it is as if Logozar has created a whole new realm within the night for us to enjoy, and is without doubt my favourite composition from the album.
As we move forever onwards within the dimensions of this quite beautiful album called Starlight by Michael Logozar, we come across a moment of lightness that raises the energies, it is called Hand in Hand; steeped in the tradition new age solo piano styles of Lanz and Winston, this friendly and honest composition will find friends in many quarters.
There is a very rich melody on this next offering entitled Across the Sea. The performance here by Logozar is quite breath-taking, he doesn’t only create wonderful images of sailing the oceans and travelling across the seas, there is a longing here, and a lyrical content that is literally created for you to sing along with.
The Wishing Star is above us now, and as we stand and watch and wish, allow this next song to be the soundtrack for that moment. There is a certain musical shimmer here that is very compelling. While the lightness and sparkling elements of this track are obvious, there is another layer of hope weaved deeply into this great track.
So we stand before the penultimate piece off the release and this last but one opus is called Falling. There are some pieces that will resonate with you more than others perhaps, but this one is simply outstanding, I found it quite emotive as well. Logozar manifests something truly moving here, its passion filled and very memorable in its over-all content.
The perfect end to the perfect album is about to occur, as Michael Logozar brings us his parting piece called Evening Prayer. The tranquillity of this offering is sublime and brings a level of peace and serenity of the highest quality. Evening Prayer at just over 6 minutes is also the longest piece off the album, but simply the most idyllic way to leave the project.
Starlight by Michael Logozar is a real treat of an album; it’s a gift so soothing that you will find many relaxing star filled oasis along the way. Logozar has really pulled the stops out here, he plays from the heart to the heart and has manifested an album that is truly masterful in creating a breathing space in time for us to all float within; fans of the solo piano genre are going to lap this one up.
Rating: Excellent
Serenity II: More Peaceful Music on the Chapman Stick by Michael Kollwitz
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/19/2018
Ease the trials and tribulations of the day
The first time around I adored the work of Michael Kollwitz and his original album Serenity, with the second edition arriving some months later, we are gifted with no less than 16 more tracks to soothe our souls and ease our minds with Serenity II.
The supreme smoothness and calmness of approach can be found with ease on tracks like the opener The Presence and the attractive and kindly composition Wrapped in Love.
What Kollwitz does so well is create an serene atmosphere, which is constant and gentle throughout the entire hour, fine examples of that fluency can be found on the forever onward energies of Climbing the Mountain, a track that has a slow sense of focused movement and then the openness of Clear Passage, a piece that contains a certain sense of a light hearted quality within.
The Chapman Stick may be worth some research if you are not aware of the instrument, I would say that of all the artists who perform with this instrument, Kollwitz must be at the top of that musical tree, this is so evident with you listen to pieces like Live and Let Live, this has a distinct Jazz ethic to its construction and the ever charming The Balance, a warm composition that creates a wonderful sense of well-being whilst listening, but then again the whole album does.
The warmth of this release is a total boon, especially if you feature the previous album on a playlist, you will have near on two hours of serenity, those subtle tones of tranquillity can be further emphasised by compositions like Blue Skies, a song with such depth of colour and musical field, or Pure Signal, an arrangement that simply floats with the bliss of a summers day.
The Chapman Stick manifests a liquid like tone to its refrains like no other instrument, and a much eased back motif comes as a result of this very careful and crafted performance, two good examples of this are the pieces Welcome Home, a track that seems to have a divine balminess about its construction and the smooth confidence of A Greater Purpose.
There is also a superb technical essence to this album that can be really enjoyed as well, listen to the gentle intricacies of compositions like One With Nature, a calm short form styled song that is as tender as it is peaceful, or Shaman’s Cave, where one will find a wonderful narrative to guide you along your way within the piece.
Michael Kollwitz has a talent for creating a temperate atmospheric musical environment with each track, pieces like Easy Does It, the perfect Sunday morning opus and the crafted and quite brilliant Breaking Free, a song with the chilled ambience of a spring afternoon in the mountains.
By the time you have reached this point, you will be so relaxed and calm, you may just want to lay back and close your eyes, I would imagine the sleep that would follow would be some of the best ever, so to gift you two last sublimely laid back and unflustered arrangements is the total pleasure of the artist.
The shortest track off the album is our penultimate offering and called Beyond the Clouds, a piece that contains a composed and still feeling, akin to laying on your back looking up at an August sky, cloud watching. The last composition is probably the most placid and gentle of all and called Way of Knowledge, this one will really give you such a sublime sense of calmness as it plays.
Michael Kollwitz has done it again; he has created yet another alternate dimension of supreme tranquillity to get lost in. Serenity II connects perfectly with its sister album and gifts to you yet another hour of utter bliss with which to ease the trials and tribulations of the day completely away.
Rating: Excellent
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