Reviews 04-14-2010


Music Reviews 



Radiant Sky

by Scott August

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There are times that after you have heard enough music you start to think that you know what a certain album by a certain artist is going to sound like before you even start playing the music. You build up perceptions of a given artist based on what you have heard in the past from them and you have vague ideas based on the particular instrument that the artist plays as to what you think a release by them is supposed to sound like. If you had any preconceptions as to what you think Radiant Sky might or should sound like you should toss them out and approach Scott's new album with open ears because you will find that it isn't what you might have thought and it will definitely make you a fan of Scott August's talent as a musician if you weren't one already.  

Radiant Sky is Scott August's fifth album release and while it is not a complete departure from his signature flute it breaks some new ground for Scott as a composer and as a multi-instrumentalist musician. In the promo sheet that came with the review copy Scott is quoted as saying that "the concept of the radiant sky album began with me enjoying the night sky and feeling connected that way to ancient cultures." 

The music of Radiant Sky does indeed feel tied to the stars as one listens to each of the compositions. In fact there are some portions of Radiant Sky that I would actually classify as space music which moves the listener to be among the stars as opposed to simply gazing as them from an earthbound position. The first track to cross this line is the song Arc of Dreams which opens with some delicious drifting synths that slowly builds into an echoing keyboard piece all the while adding more elements to the soundscape as we move further into the sonic landscape that Scott so lovingly crafts. The great thing about this track is that none of the additional elements ever break the dreamlike mood established from the very beginning by the synths. The listener is  anchored by the keyboards and the synths as they are the constant theme throughout the song. At the end of the track the layered instruments start to fade away until the listener is left at the end of the song feeling relaxed and serene.  

The album cover graphics also reinforces the theme of Scott's music as it shows a time lapse picture of the night sky with the camera aimed at the north star. The north star remains relatively fixed in its position while the other stars leave light tracings as the earth rotates.  As ancient humans watched the night sky in its nightly and seasonal dance I'm sure that they were filled with the same kind of awe that Scott was as he composed Radiant Sky.

One of my favorite songs on the album is track 5 which is entitled Sante Fe. Scott says of Sante Fe that "it reminds me of walking around that city and seeing the plaza, the exotic shops and the people from all over the world." I enjoyed this song because it is a light and airy tune that offers a counterpoint to some of the more contemplative tracks found on Radiant Sky. One could almost say that it was a bouncy song that will stick in your mind long after you have finished playing this album. Sante Fe features Scott on flute and keyboards with each instrument enlightening listeners to different aspects of the composition. The recording and production on this song as well as the rest of the album are top notch and really allow the songs to shine through without a heavy hand in the mix.  

Even though the entire album is filled with gems my other favorite song in this collection is track 9 which is called A Pale Radiance. The song is another atmospheric song that features Scott on the keyboard with nary a flute to be found. I think that songs like this will cement Scott's reputation as a truly ambient artist in his own right. Oftentimes there are preconceptions that follow musicians around as to what they sound like and what "style" of music that they normally play so it is refreshing to hear Scott showing his listeners that his music is not bound by what has come before but is always open to expressing itself in whatever way is appropriate for what has been composed. I for one come away from listening to this album with an even deeper respect for Scott as a musician after hearing what he is capable of.  

Radiant Sky is Scott's successful attempt to meld more atmospheric and ambient elements into his music to reflect more of what he loves listening to. Scott says "...this CD is a more direct acknowledgement of my admiration for artists like Steve Roach and Brian Eno." I found that this disc simply enhances Scott's growing reputation as a musician and a composer.  The over all feeling of this CD is soothing to the mind and the spirit which allows the listener to tap into an otherworldly vibe and feel something of the cultures that have influenced Scott's music. Whenever you can do this you've done a good job as a musician and a writer. While long time listeners of Scott's music will see familiar terrain being covered on Radiant Sky he also takes us on some eye opening side trips into areas that might be interesting to see explored further on future projects by Scott. All in all I would say that this is a trip that is well worth taking and with Scott as your guide you really can't go wrong.
Definitely recommended by AV.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions