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By David Wahler
Label: Darius Productions
Released 2/14/2015
Spiritus tracks
1. Spiritus
2. Mystic Voyage
3. Bhakti Heart
4. Whispers from Eternity
5. Ananda
6. Metamorphose
7. Devi
8. Veil of Maya
9. Spirit Dance
10. Chela
11. Ocean of Light
David Wahler - Spiritus
Keyboardist David Wahler explores the softer side of chill-out, perhaps even the ethereal aspect of the genre, on his best album to date, Spiritus. The word itself means “spirit” or “breath” and your breathing will be nice and easy as you listen to the artist take you on a drifting yet gently syncopated and wholly relaxing musical journey executed with beauty and grace. Wahler had already established a firm foothold in chill-out notoriety with his earlier releases (Antiquus, A Star Danced, and Secret Dream) but here he raises the bar significantly on his mastery of both melodies and keyboard artistry. Sublime electronic keyboard melodies are accented by shimmering sonics, strings, reverbed bell tones, breathy chorals and many other expertly applied effects and textures. The inclusion of subtle rhythmic textures and gently chilled beats are expertly inserted among the fluid melodies. Sparse moments of understated drama (never intrusive) blend seamlessly with wave after wave of soothing soundscapes resulting in Wahler's most accomplished and enjoyable album to date.

There is a delicate lightness in Wahler’s main melodies, the musical equivalent of the softest rain falling, perceptible but never as anything but a gentle, comforting mist. Yet he finds a way of integrating beats and rhythms all the same without distracting from the overall warmth and softness of the music itself. A track such as “Metamorphose” dials up the intensity just a tad, with more pronounced hand drums and slight feeling of urgency (perhaps befitting its title), but even so, the mood is less frantic and more a subdued sensation of energizing freedom. More typical of the album is the opening title track—lush chorals which flow into a gently plucked guitar backed by a slowly paced bass rhythm. It’s immediately apparent that Wahler’s production quality is at its technical and creative peak; the album sounds heavenly (on this particular track, that description is both figurative and literal!). “Mystic Voyage” once again starts with chorals and a solo harp but a more pronounced keyboard sound takes the lead melody with just a hint of dramatic tension. However, the elements from the track’s beginning manage to keep everything well-grounded so that the chill element is solidly laid back and relaxed. You just kinda float away with it. “Bhakti Heart” kicks off with another superlative gentle chill-out rhythm, this time accompanied by reverbed bell tones that sound like the aural equivalent of ripples on a Zen pond, while “Whispers From Eternity” features harp arpeggios, bell tones, and more a languid lead melody that carries just a hint of Mediterranean influence. Synth strings and chorals introduced later transition the track into romantic territory, lush and also plaintive.

Each successive track on Spiritus continues to ease the listener into a state of contentment and subtle bliss with an element of enlightenment too (again, handled in a subdued way, i.e. this is not a heavy-handed slice of serious meditation backdrop, but is, instead, an entertaining web of instrumentals which can serve as both a pleasing background or listened to attentively in order to de-stress). Check out the glistening tones and twinkling textures on "Ananda" which are gently buoyed by a slow tempo semi-glitchy rhythm—oh so dreamy! "Devi" features a lovely lilting flute melody (switching over to a high pitched horn) backed by a soft bass line/harp sample. Reminiscent of classic electronic new age music from the '90s, the piece epitomizes a drifting soundscape. Low pitched flute, and later Liquid Mind-like male chorales, are set against a gently rocking bass and beat rhythm on "Veil of Maya" and enhanced with a sprinkling of retro synth effects in the background.

I have left a few tracks undescribed so that you can discover them for yourself, which I highly recommend you doing. Spiritus is not just David Wahler's best work, but it's one of the best albums in the genre of electronic new age music (fused with chill-out) in recent years. I have played it at least ten times (probably closer to twenty) before writing this review (which is late compared to when the album was released—my bad!), and each time the superbly soft, engaging melodies and low-key rhythms just made my cares float away. If you seek beguiling electronic keyboard music, look no further than this outstanding album.
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 3/10/2016
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