||The title song Return to Freedom has that dramatic and triumphant fanfare that usually signifies the return to the starting place. As if the experience has come full circle. For the musical duo of Randy and Pamela Copus, otherwise known as 2002, the album may have a hidden meaning, as they begin a new musical journey on their own label. For this experienced and talented duo, it will be what the business people call a lateral move. They begin anew on the level that they have already achieved and considering their lofty achievements to date the apex is and always was within their musical grasps. Excelsior!
Everything on the album indicates a rebirth, as a musical phoenix rising out of the ashes of the past. The echoing tune Memory of the Sky, a deliciously smooth piece of drift music is an advertiser’s dream soundtrack. It is very unforgettable. There is darkness and light, energy and stasis, and the moodiness of an anticipative god.
Stillpoint unleashes a musical tether as if from some huge, unseen jellyfish that just snakes out into the universe. It crawls, it slithers, and it senses and then it returns to the starting point, the Stillpoint, to consider what it has found.
It is no surprise that the story of a mystical bird that dies and rises from its ashes is known on every major continent. Although the Phoenix is thought to be the size of an eagle, it is said that it is so light that it crushes nothing. And such is the feeling from the tune Firebird. It is light in every sense of the word, weightless and radiant.
Sunlight Through a Feather dabbles into the world of Stravinsky and the mythology of the Firebird. For it is by a single feather that Prince Ivan was saved and won him the heart of Tsarevna. 2002 offers a song of soft light through a filter of dreams.
The ubiquitous drifting quality of the album is repeated rather strongly in the final cut, The End is the Beginning. Coming full circle is the warm droning cycles that all creatures and all processes must adhere to in the carbon world. The tune has a remarkable peacefulness to it. It is hopefully more of a musical portent than an ending to an amazing aural experience.
Rating: Very Good - RJ Lannan
In the mercurial world of new age music, artists don't survive for the many years which 2002 have (their first release, Wings, came out in 1992) without an abundance of three things: talent, perseverance, and patience. Luckily for fans of beautiful, serene, warm, and lush soundscapes, the husband and wife tandem (Randy and Pamela Copus) have not just "tread water" but have grown steadily more accomplished with each successive album. Wings II: Return to Freedom, their latest CD, highlights their considerable musical gifts as each of the ten tracks conveys a richness of musical treasures.
Randy Copus plays piano, electric cello, bass and keyboards while Pamela can be heard on flute, harp, keyboards and the WX5 wind instrument. The pair also creates the beautiful angelic chorals heard on some tracks through layering their own multi-tracked (wordless) singing voices. Each of the CD's ten pieces varies, at least somewhat, with different instruments taking the lead as well as assorted electronic textures, keyboards, and ethereal sounds employed to flesh out the superbly engineered music. I've read 2002's music being compared to Enya's. I can accede to that statement, but I also hear similarities to Vangelis (at his least bombastic, obviously), Liquid Mind, Paul Avgerinos, and earlier works from Kevin Braheny. The common thread in all those artists, as well as in 2002, is a lush and full musical sound, yet without stepping over into melodrama or overkill. Also, Wings II is instantly accessible, i.e. there is no "learning curve" required to enjoy the Copuses' flowing melodies and superb musicianship.
2002's music is never syrupy, melodramatic, or sugary-sweet. It's smart, sophisticated, and frequently subtler than some of their contemporaries. The musical variety present on Wings II should broaden the appeal of the CD to multiple genres' fans. Check out Firebird which is draped in spacemusic vastness or the shimmering ambient-like Stillpoint with a muted trumpet-like horn sample in the background, and Sunlight Through a Feather featuring yet more of the ambient aesthetic with warm drones undulating under sparse piano.
The most impressive quality of 2002's Wings II is the meshing of two disparate musical qualities—it sends the soul soaring with subtle elation even while the spirit surrenders to sublime serenity. This can be discerned on tracks such as Memory of the Sky, Lady of the Lake, and "Athena" on which an empowering elation is counterbalanced by a soothing evocation of calm. Wings II deserves to sit on the CD rack shelf of anyone who favors this genre.
Rating: Very Good+ - Bill Binkelman