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By Paul Adams
Label: Lakefront
Released 5/2/2010
Heavens tracks
1. Dreamtime
2. In A Zen Garden
3. Into the Deep Blue
4. Whippoorwill
5. The Ancients
6. Cloud Floating
7. Grace Befalls the Evening
8. Saddness Will Not Bind Me
9. Heavens
10. The Sky of Hope
Flutist/multi-instrumentalist Paul Adams takes his listeners on a contemplative voyage to a serene landscape on his latest CD, Heavens, subtitled Further Explorations for the Dreaming Flute. Featuring a myriad of flutes embellished with subtle synthesizer shadings, percussion, zither, and judiciously applied nature sounds, the CD illustrates that Adams is a masterful sound sculptor as he wends his way through a variety of evocations, moods, and subtle shadings of style in these ten instrumentals. The overall tone of the album is restful and calming, although some moments are more melancholic and reflective while others inject subdued liveliness and cheer.

Despite the presence of Native flute on many tracks, and the accompanying Native mythological "story" (written by Adams), this is also a minimalist Zen-like recording—it is very much "of the moment," taking the listener on an inward journey, not a communal one. There's no denying the obvious Native American musical influences, but I also resonate to the CD's similarities to the many bansuri flute recordings I have heard. That particular similarity is evidenced at the start of the second track, In A Zen Garden with its repeated reverberating bell tone, as well as at points throughout the CD where Adams seems as much aligned with an Eastern sensibility (from a melodic standpoint, that is) as a Western one.

Regardless where you place Adams on the global scene, it's obvious that he has both the chops and the sincerity to convey a wonderful musical message. His adroit mixture of synth textures with his wafting flute melodies is all you need to hear to be assured that you are in the hands of a master craftsman. The integration on some tracks of nature sounds, such as the birdsong and insects on Whippoorwill, or the night-songs of crickets on Grace Befalls the Evening, and the deft way it's always handled in each case, indicates a craftsman's skill in combining music and "nature's chorus" so that each complements the other.

Heavens holds appeal for a broad spectrum of music fans: Native-influenced flute lovers, New Age music aficionados, folks who favor nature-sound-enhanced acoustic music and those souls who are seeking a low-key meditative/contemplative listening experience. This is the first CD I've heard from Adams since his remarkably immersive release The Property of Water (1998—and HIGHLY recommended!) and I see he hasn't lost a step when it comes to production, engineering or composing/performing. He is still well skilled at layering assorted elements in a way that the whole is much more than the parts. Heavens' hybrid of ethnic/world flute music, New Age textures, nature sounds, and overall mood of tranquility and introspection, makes it a must-have for those seeking a soothing listening experience that stretches across cultures, across boundaries, and journeys to the ultimate landscape, the human soul. Heavens is a special recording and I highly recommend it.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 5/18/2010
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